Category: Basketball

Yes. It is now April, 2008 and Bob Johnson is still ignorant.

Bob Johnson is still ignorant.

Ignorant about how to ingratiate an expansion basketball team to a city that had just lost a team and ignorant about politics.

This subject isn’t worth a lot of my time or yours.  Consider this the equivalent of walking into the house soaking wet and announcing:

“It’s raining outside.”

Magic Johnson and a live microphone – a match made in heaven.

It seems Bob Kerrey has begotten Magic Johnson.

I was toiling away at the day/night job when I saw everyone’s favorite Goldwater Girl turned rabid Feminist liberal standing in front of a Black man who was clearly taller than everyone else in the room, including her husband, who is no shrinking violet himself.

Lo and Behold, Its one Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who is cruising a Des Moines Hy-Vee with the Clintons and cautioning America against entrusting it’s fate to a rookie.

During a mid-day rally in Davenport, Magic Johnson said the more he
practiced, the better he got at basketball and Johnson went on to
suggest Clinton rival Barack Obama was a “rookie” who shouldn’t be
entrusted with the presidency.

“We do not want somebody in there that is young or a rookie at
politics,” Johnson said. “We want somebody in there that knows what
they’re doing because this job is so huge.”

Magic, Magic, Magic…how SOOOOOON we forget.

YOU of all people should know about the power of an amazingly talented rookie.

Let us take a step back into the time machine, shall we?

May 16, 1980

As a matter of fact, let us allow the words of someone who is INTIMATELY familiar with that day and how it might be relative to this story.

There’s a short list of NBA names
that, when spoken, immediately evoke feelings of greatness of
near-divine proportions. For every 20 or so guys who have played in a
handful of All-Star Games in their careers, there’s one player whose
star shines brighter than the rest, a guy who fills the arenas on a
nightly basis. From the moment he stepped on the court in his first NBA
game in 1979, Earvin “Magic” Johnson was one of those players. But it
was one performance against my Philadelphia 76ers in the 1980 Finals
that forever placed Magic’s name among the true NBA legends.

Coming off his Michigan State
Spartans’ storied NCAA championship victory over Larry Bird and Indiana
State, the 6-foot-9 rookie point guard won over fans immediately with
his brilliant smile and colorful game. With the formidable Kareem
Abdul-Jabbar, who won his sixth and final Most Valuable Player trophy
that year, commanding the middle, Johnson delivered from day one,
averaging 18 points and 7.3 assists his first year. He was ultimately
eked out for Rookie of the Year by Bird, who just about single-handedly
resurrected a slumping Boston Celtics franchise.

Magic showed remarkable leadership
in steering the Los Angeles Lakers’ ship all the way to the 1980 NBA
Finals against us, a series we were slightly favored in. The world had
seen Magic perform superbly in crunch time of the NCAA tournament the
previous year. But there’s no stage like the NBA Finals, and he was
only 20 years old with two years of college and one NBA season under
his belt. Many had sensed greatness in Earvin, but a player has to
perform under the most pressure-filled conditions before he earns true
superstar status.

The series began pretty evenly,
with my personal highlight being in the fourth quarter of Game Four,
with us trailing 2-1 in the series. In what’s now become a pretty
well-documented move, I drove baseline, elevated, reached back behind
the backboard with the ball and emerged on the opposite side of the
basket to convert the layup. We ended up with a 105-102 win to tie the
series, and our confidence was riding high.

L.A. won Game Five to take a 3-2
series lead, but word dropped that Kareem wouldn’t make the trip to
Philly for Game Six, as his ankle sprain left him unable to run. We
were totally shocked to hear this news, and I remember our coach, Billy
Cunningham, saying he’d believe Kareem wasn’t playing only when the
game ended and he hadn’t seen him. But while we knew our backs were
still against the wall and that the Lakers would be tough even without
the big center, I’d be lying if I said our confidence didn’t jump a
notch or two upon hearing Kareem was out.

With
the eventual leading scorer in NBA history home in bed, we were
considerably bigger than L.A., so the Lakers were going to have to play
a different style of basketball for them to have a chance against us.
We didn’t know exactly what to expect, which made them unpredictable
and dangerous, as evidenced by the fact that Magic jumped center for
them to start out the game. I remember Earvin smiling at center court
moments before anyone else was in position, trying to decide how to
jump.

With Darryl Dawkins and Caldwell
Jones manning our inside, we might’ve been bigger than the Kareem-less
Lakers, but with Magic pushing the break flanked by Jamaal Wilkes, Norm
Nixon, Spencer Haywood and Michael Cooper, they were significantly more
athletic than us. Their up-tempo strategy paid off in the first half,
as we headed into the locker room deadlocked at 60-60, a halftime score
you don’t see too often anymore.

While we were somewhat surprised
at how the Lakers were hanging with us without Kareem in Philadelphia,
you can only imagine how we felt when L.A. opened the third quarter
with a 14-0 explosion. Aided by Wilkes’s career game of 37 points and
10 rebounds, Magic never let us back into the game, passing, rebounding
and shooting his way to 42 points, 15 boards, seven assists and three
steals–on the road, no less. The Lakers won the game, 123-107, and
thus the NBA championship.

Earvin turned in what many
consider, myself included, the best performance ever in an NBA Finals
game. While I obviously would’ve preferred winning that game and then
the championship, at least I can look back 25 years later and say that
I saw the legend of Magic Johnson born first-hand.

The Lakers would go on to win four
more NBA titles in the ’80s, none of which would have come without the
6-foot-9 point guard with the huge smile and an even bigger game.

So, um, yeah…Magic might not be the best person to preach experience over talent.

Can’t wait to see who steps up tomorrow.

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