I don’t think we can lead off this week’s column with anything other than Magic Johnson’s return to the NBA. Of course, what makes the story even better is that the greatest Laker of all time has come back to save the franchise from slipping back into its post Showtime, pre-Shaq and Kobe mediocrity. Initially upon his return to the Lakers, Magic had some silly title, but presto, in less than a week, he is now the President of Basketball Operations.
Shortly after taking control of the team, he dealt one of its few traceable pieces (Lou Williams) for players and draft picks as he begins what will hopefully, for Lakers’ fans, be a short rebuilding process. There is no way you cannot like this move. Heck, even if you hate the Lakers, you have to be happy Magic is back where he belongs — in the NBA. It is always strange seeing him at the Dodgers’ games, right? Yes, he is a part-owner of the Los Angeles baseball club, but he belongs on the basketball court and that’s where he is now. Honestly, I wish him the best of luck. I am no Lakers’ fan, for sure, but I find it hard not to be a Magic Johnson fan. It looks to me like the Lakers have the right guy running the team now and success will most certainly follow.
Williams getting shipped to the Rockets was hardly the biggest NBA deal of the past week. No, that would be DeMarcus Cousins getting dealt to New Orleans where he will join with fellow former one-and-done Kentucky Wildcat Anthony Davis to form one of the best front courts in the league. I am not sure about what Sacramento was doing with this one. Cousins is one of the better players in the NBA and they got a couple draft picks and some average, at best, players in exchange for him. Okay, I realize Cousins has issues off the court, and maybe that’s why his selling price was so low. But still, you would have thought Magic’s old friend Vlade Divac (who is the Kings’ general manager) could have finagled a little more for Cousins.
Finally, this tidbit from spring training: Alex Rodriguez is officially retired. I know what you’re thinking. This is old news. He retired last year. Well, if you think back you might remember it was not really the case. The Yankees actually forced him out and he said he wouldn’t play any more in 2016. So I suppose the door was open for the most tainted player in the history of Major League Baseball to find employment again in 2017. Perhaps even more surprising to me is his agent claims there were teams who were interested. Now this does not surprise me because of Rodriguez’ link to PED’s and bad publicity. It surprises me because he was awfully bad last year. He hit just .244 with seven home runs. Those are pretty pedestrian numbers which can be achieved by the majority of MLB players, so I am not sure why any team would want him.
But I guess that doesn’t matter. A-Rod is done and with his “official” retirement we can close the books on the steroid era. He was the last guy with direct links to those good old days of juicing and hitting absurd numbers of home runs. You may not realize this, but Rodriguez eclipsed 50 home runs three times in his career. Hank Aaron never did that once. Neither did Ted Williams. Heck, Babe Ruth only did it four times. Yes, just one more time than A-Rod, and he wasn’t even considered the premier power hitter of his generation! Now he is done and hitting 50 home runs is a really big deal again. Both of which are good things, if you ask me.