Lakers: Do You Believe In Magic?

Eric Rodas
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The foundation for every storied franchise is built by its accomplishments that are based on the culture of its history. Indeed, the details of its success emanate from its culture. Winning is not just an action, it is a state of mind. From its front office moves to its player’s actual moves on the court, the franchise’s philosophy of winning creates a culture within itself. It becomes the image that it identifies as… stray from this plan at your own peril. Basically because for many teams, finding their own unique brand of culture has been less than fruitful. So what intent does the Los Angeles Lakers have in the hiring of Hall of Famer Earvin Magic Johnson as special adviser to co-owner Jeanie Buss? What can he do to return this once revered franchise back to its original significance? I suppose that time will tell.

It has been nearly seven years since the Lakers competed for a championship. The departure of Phil Jackson, the career shortening injuries of Kobe Bryant and the unfortunate out comes of several acquisitions have left the franchise in a bit of a tail spin. The marketing machine, which has always been a franchise staple, has now become the over selling of undeveloped young talent while ticket prices refuse to come down.

It would seem that the basketball operations part of this franchise is not keeping up with the business aspect of it. Although the Lakers have made some moves in an attempt to regain their prominence in the league, it doesn’t seem clear in what direction the franchise is going and how long it will take it to get there.

Enter Earvin Magic Johnson, the ambassador of the “Showtime Laker” era culture and battle hardened combatant of the “Golden Era “of basketball. There is no question about his knowledge of the game, but what some people don’t know is how powerful and influential this man truly is. His greatest asset is that he is a communicator and the ultimate team player. He understands the value of surrounding himself with talented people.

What has become apparent with his hiring by Buss, unbeknownst to co-owner Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchack, is that there was poor or nonexistent communication between these crucial parts of the franchise. Johnson and Buss go back many years as his relationship with the Buss family went far beyond the basketball court. It seems like she needed someone she could trust more so than a technical adviser.

The addition of Johnson will provide a blueprint of a winning culture with some of those intricate details that may resurrect this franchise into its winning ways for the new era of the game. If his advisory role extends itself to the players, expect vast improvements which will be realized with certain young play-makers. He should, at the very least, help the infrastructure present a united front in order to handle some of its untimely decisions. By following his business model, one thing is apparent, if he can’t do it himself he will find some one who can. His willingness to put his rather larger than life ego in the backseat in order to secure success is priceless.

It was the cornerstone of the Showtime Lakers culture that you can still see today in their highlights on-line. The best example of this is not the no-look pass from Johnson to James Worthy for the dunk that finished the high-powered fast break. Rather, it’s the moment that they point at each other after the play that is the true expression of teamwork. In that moment, we witness the unspoken language of true teamwork. In this subtle gesture, Johnson says, “I see you” and Worthy returns with, “I’m always ready”. That translates to, “I need you” and “I need you too”. United we stand, that’s the essence that’s needed in this new Lakers’ culture. Peace.


Eric Rodas

Los Angeles, California

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