Bulpett: Magic Johnson has a tough job ahead but LA native Amir Johnson believes he’s up to the task
It remains to be seen what effect Magic Johnson will have as he takes over the Lakers’ basketball operation, but longtime fans of the franchise such as Celtics forward Amir Johnson, who grew up a short distance from The Forum, are happy with the change.
First, however, the Lakers have to get through the Buss family drama that devolved into a legal matter as Jeanie Buss exerted her authority and her brothers fought back.
Then she and Magic may want to settle down new general manager Rob Pelinka, who went a little over the top in his introductory press conference when he spoke of a friend seeing a child in a Syrian refugee camp wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey.
“This brand resonates around the world,” Pelinka said. “This brand, this Lakers brand, can give hope in the corners of the globe. If we’re doing our job here and we’re the Lakers, we can bring joy and hope to everyone across the world.”
Anyway, Amir likes the move to Magic.
“That’s dope, man,” Amir Johnson. “I think it’s great. For me growing up in LA, I always saw how Magic has a lot of businesses — the Magic Johnson theaters and 24-Hour Fitness and all that — and I think it’s dope that he really committed to the community. He’s doing all this great stuff. It kind of shows you what this job can do for you. Magic’s been doing it the smart way, by doing great investments. I’m looking at that like, wow, that’s how I want to be.”
As for whether Magic Johnson can return the Lakers to prominence, Amir said, “I don’t know, man. Nowadays you see guys just teaming up. I don’t know what mindset guys will have with the Lakers now that Magic is there.”
Having been born in May 1987, Amir is a little young to recall the Magic Johnson era with the Lakers.
“Before the ‘Lake Show’ with Kobe and Shaq, it was ‘Showtime,’?” he said. “I didn’t quite really understand how big it was until I got a little bit older. My pops knew, and sometimes I’d watch it with him. It’s amazing.”
This week’s C’s timeline
Today, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. — Sure, the Celtics are 3-0 vs. the 76ers this season, but they’ve won those games by 8, 4 and 1 point. So this hasn’t been easy. The Sixers are better than in recent years, but have fallen on harder times since Joel Embiid went out for the year with a left knee meniscus tear.
Tomorrow, vs. Washington, 7:30 p.m. — This one could be extremely important for playoff seeding. A C’s win could go a long way toward helping secure the No. 2 seed and keep the Wizards at bay — or even giving the C’s a shot at catching Cleveland. The matchups with Washington have been intense, though not really close. The Celts have lost by 25 and 15 in DC and won by nine in Boston. But the games have been testy and featured confrontations. This one is expected to be no different.
Wednesday, vs. Indiana, 7:30 p.m. — This is the first meeting between the teams in Boston this season. The C’s won both games in Indianapolis. It will also be the first time the teams get together since the C’s put on a trade deadline push to get Paul George.
Friday, vs. Phoenix, 7:30 p.m. — No need to ask whether the Celtics — and Isaiah Thomas, in particular — will be up for this one. Still fresh in their minds will be the March 5 game in Phoenix when the C’s gave up a tying layup and winning 3-pointer in the final seconds of a game they thought they had in hand. In the final sequence, Thomas fumbled an inbounds pass, and Tyler Ulis drilled a trey at the buzzer for the 109-106 decision.
A SWEET ACKNOWLEDGEMENT FOR C’S FAN FAVORITE DUEROD
He was a cult hero in Boston. Then he was a firefighter in Detroit.
Terry Duerod (right), “Sweet Due” and the object of drawn-out chants of “Dooooo” from fans late in Celtics wins in the early 1980s, had his number 42 retired at his school, formerly the University of Detroit, now the University of Detroit Mercy, last month.
His college coach, Dick Vitale, was there for the ceremony.
“Everything this man is celebrating tonight, he worked his tail off for it,” Vitale said. “I could not be more proud of him.”
Duerod was the Gino of his day, joining the Celts in the championship ’80-81 season and staying another year before moving on for a final season at Golden State. Once when the old Garden crowd was calling for him at the end of a game, coach Bill Fitch turned to the stands and held up a sign that read, “Say please.”
Due was an accomplished guard for Detroit, a major part of the 1977 squad that made it to the Sweet 16.
After his NBA career, Duerod had a 27-year career with the Detroit Fire Department. He left at the mandatory retirement age of 60.
Pretty sweet, Due.
THOMAS: JOKIC MUST CHIP AWAY
Compared to Isaiah Thomas being taken 60th and last in the 2011 NBA draft, Nikola Jokic was a relative lottery pick — taken 11th in the second round in 2014. After staying overseas a year, the Denver center turned just 22 last month and is tearing up the league with his combination of strength and feel for the game.
“He’s talented,” said Thomas when asked what advice he’d give Jokic. “He’s really good. Just keep the chip on your shoulder, keep proving people wrong and have fun. It seems like he’s having fun. He’s a special player.”