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Magic Johnson

The 2012 NBA Finals: One of the Most Historically Significant…Ever

Let’s ignore the usual rhetoric for now. We’re going to take the LeBron fourth quarter statistics and put them off to the side. We’re going to, for the moment, disregard his erratic and immature behavior that even we here at MAMBINO can’t shy away from critiquing. We’re going to stop talking about the questionable nature in which the Miami Heat came together two years ago. This isn’t going to be about how Dwyane Wade has slowly morphed into one of the most despicable on and off-court character in the league. Hell, this isn’t going to be a sychophantic pedestal-job on Kevin Durant, Russ Westbrook and James Harden that we’ve professed to loving so much more than Bron and his ilk.

The prevailing storyline might be if the Miami Heat can finally win their title that they pissed off the entire world while questing to do so. The secondary yarn here is if LeBron James, by all accounts and MVP trophies the best player on the planet, can carry an unorthodox and limited team to a title. And a footnote to all of this is if Kevin Durant, James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Russ Westbrook – all under the age of 24 – can upstage their celebrity opponents and upend them for their first championship.

That’s not what’s important here. Is it a big part of the story? Yes, it is. Very. Extremely. LeBron, Wade and Bosh are all in their ninth seasons, with only Wade capturing the ever-elusive chip in 2006, though with Shaquille and Alonzo at his side. Durant, Russ and Harden surpassing them would be a fantastic story that the NBA-watching public could absolutely engorge themselves with – the thought of the noble, beloved, blue-collar Thunder from the humble breadbasket of America defeating the glamorous villains hailing from the neon-satured, sun-soaked South Beach would be a screenplay come to life.

For the NBA-head though, this isn’t just a tale of the young, hard-working Thunder vanquishing the evil thespians from Miami. This is a match-up of the two best teams in the NBA. Lasting up to seven games, this year’s Finals pits six of the NBA’s best 20 players against each other, highlighted by the consensus top dog in James and the runner-up in Durant. As anyone who watched Tuesday’s Game 1 will attest, this isn’t just about a set with star-power – this is going to be a tough, grinding series that no matter who the victor is, we’ll all agree that the trophy was well-deserved.

The Oklahoma City Thunder versus the Miami Heat isn’t just going to be a great Finals. This is one of the most historically significant Finals ever. And heres’ why.
I’ve spoken at length about the “generationalism” there is in the NBA. Determined sometimes by draft class, age or style of play, groups of players are often banded together with an unmistakable bond that fans always seem to identify them by.

There was Jordan’s generation, and before that, Magic and Bird’s. After Jordan, it was Shaquille, Timmy and Kobe ruled the roost. The specific players mentioned up top is always up for debate, but in the end, no one’s really questioning whether or not these guys were the leaders of their peers.

What’s incredible about the NBA is that unlike baseball, football or hockey, there seems to be rules that adhere to the game decade after decade. One of these rules, or concepts I should say, is that for the past 30 years of NBA basketball, there is a definite breaking point, a specific event, that delineates generation… Read more...

Magic Johnson is the Owner of the LA Dodgers

We’re free. Our long, enduring local nightmare is over. That felt even better to write than I thought it would. 

Free from the thought of another offseason in which the question isn’t how much money are the Dodgers going to spend on free agents, but rather how much can the Dodgers spend. Free from another 6 months of wondering if our players are going to get paid on time for their work on the field, or if the stadium surrounding it will have enough security to keep paying customers safe. Free from the disgrace of having the most noteworthy headlines read about a divorce proceeding or a loan payment. Free from worrying whether or not the greatest announcer of all-time will finally be fed up with off-field shenanigans corrupting the team that is as much a part of him as is his own beating heart. Free from wondering why the stadium remains slowly withering away year after year, the memories of what has been made into a shining baseball cathedral by our collective hearts and minds growing more distant year after year.

We are free from the ownership of Frank McCourt and his incredible mistreatment of an American Institution. We are free from someone who has taken a franchise that predates Mount Rushmore, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, and treated it not with the reverence it so justly deserves, but rather with the carelessness of a child’s piggy bank.

For the past day and a half, I’ve been deluged with questions of when MAMBINO would come out with our assessment of a Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten and Mark Walter-led group buying the Dodgers. The truth is, much like watching Jeremy Lin stroking 38 points in the Garden, or seeing Kobe and Pau vanquish the Celtics in Game 7 in person, a thrown-together post about how happy we all are, or how awesome Magic Johnson is wouldn’t even come close to justifying how excited I am.

I knew that this day was inevitable from the moment that McCourt realized his inevitable ouster from his seat at the head of the table, and began to work hand-in-hand with Commissioner Bud Selig towards finding a new owner. I became guardedly excited with the prospect of this vampire leaving the desecrated remains of my barely breathing team, and a new, swashbuckling owner coming in and resuscitating the Los Angeles Dodgers. But not even in my wildest dreams could I imagine how well this would turn out.

I’ve written before that I never hated Frank McCourt for any of his failings as a business man and a family man. Those are his personal battles to win and lose, and in doing so, his consequences to bear. Rather, I’ve found that his absolute cratering as the steward of this public entity that means so much to so many positively appalling. Yes, his weaknesses of responsibility are his own. But his most egregious offense is that Frank McCourt thought he was man enough to be a Los Angeles Dodger.

The ideals of excellence, honesty and competitive fortitude that had been forged over decades of this franchise’s existence had fallen, so very publicly, under the guard of McCourt. He had lost touch with the community he vowed to help and more than anything, had become a villain to all that cared. Never before has an owner promised so much and not only delivered on so little, but gone entirely the other way and hurt his fan base with an almost malicious carelessness.

Looking back, I suppose we should all shoulder some of the blame. How could we expect so much from someone who hadn’t lived and breathed Dodger baseball? Why would we think that an outsider could possibly understand what it mean… Read more...