Soon sports conglomerates, business titans and ordinary billionaires will be lining up to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers from now disgraced owner Donald Sterling. But who’s the favorite? Several names have been floated but one single person continues to draw the most support: Magic Johnson. The now-retired Los Angeles Laker star continues to find himself in a war of words with Sterling through the press, but Johnson’s name continues to gain steam from supporters who are favoring him to take over the reins as the team’s newest owner. Johnson, a hugely successful businessman, has denied the possibilities but as the National Basketball Association (NBA) gets set for a fire sale of the team, should the former Laker become the newest Clipper? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley of the AFRO Sports Desk debate the question.
Riley: Absolutely. Johnson’s business acumen and visibility would do wonders for the Clippers as they continue to pick up the pieces from the Sterling fallout. To have a chance to share a building with the Lakers while still competing with them would be a refreshing sight as the Lakers-Clippers rivalry intensifies. It would almost be a “stick-it” to Sterling maneuver should the resulting new owner of the team happen to be a minority. Johnson normally has the Midas touch when it comes to investments and having his hands over the Clipper organization at a time when the roster is filled with big names and prestigious coaches would be an alluring opportunity for the Laker Hall of Famer.
Green: For all the vicious words that Sterling has said about Johnson in recorded conversations that have been released to the media, it would be difficult for Johnson to loan him even a few pennies, let alone cut a check for millions of dollars. I can see Johnson taking the diplomatic approach and reserving his investment money for other opportunities that he can wholeheartedly embrace. Sterling continues to bury himself in the media with each recorded sentence and Johnson forking over a large sum of money to a bigoted business man would sour what would normally be a great idea. You can’t insult people and then expect them to do business with them.
Riley: For all of Johnson’s business decisions that he’s had to orchestrate over the past few years, I’m sure that he has come across some very rude, and perhaps bigoted, participants of business deals. But this would be more than just business; it would be the start of a culture change. To take the entire Sterling fiasco and emerge from it with Johnson as an owner couldn’t be a better possible scenario. Johnson would represent clear racial change and even provide an upbeat image for those who are HIV-positive. It would be a positive for all parties involved and another impressive accolade Johnson could add to an already stellar resume.
Green: Johnson doesn’t need to become the owner of the Clippers to set examples and be a role model because he’s been doing it for decades already. Refusing to do business with Sterling and his wife, Shelly, who the NBA is designating as the liaison for the sale, would definitely be more admirable as opposed to him simply taking over the reins. I have to believe that pride is more important than profit to Magic and one of the most respected all-time great sporting figures doesn’t have to purchase a basketball team from an undeniable racist to prove anything to us. Johnson as the Clippers owner would be a new twist in an already convoluted tale and probably cause a few sleepless nights in the Sterling household but it isn’t something that those hurt by Sterling’s comments absolutely need. And besides, Johnson’s basketball legacy will forever be tied to the Lakers. Seeing him as the newest Clippers owner probably wouldn’t sit right for those associated with Laker nation.