MAGIC Johnson said he will turn to Kobe Bryant if and when he is given the reins of the Los Angeles Lakers.
On ESPN’s First Take, the NBA legend and newly-named adviser to Los Angeles Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss said Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time) that he would try to convince the Bryant to join him in the front office in the event he is given greater control of the storied franchise.
"First call I make if I'm in charge? Kobe Bryant," said Johnson. "Because Kobe understands winning. He understands, also, these players. I would call: 'What role you want? ... If you've got a day, just give me that day.'”
"I'll take that. Whatever time he has, I want him to come and be a part of it," he added.
Johnson is scheduled to meet with Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and co-owner and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss after the All-Star break to discuss the team’s direction and strategy heading into the February 23 trade deadline. The Lakers legend wants to set things straight and get team officials on the same page in moving forward during the meeting.
“(I will ask Jim and Mitch), what was your thinking four years ago and bring me up to today and what are you thinking moving forward? I listen to that and then I want to say ‘This is my thinking’ and how we can merge these two together to come up with a solution and a plan,” said Johnson.
For the past four seasons, the Lakers have suffered losing seasons. Currently at 19-37, LA has the second-worst record in the Western Conference.
As players, Johnson and Bryant each won each won five titles for one of the league’s most popular teams.
Jim Buss said in 2014 that he would step down in two or three years if the Lakers fail to contend by that time.
In another interview for Face to Face with Hannah Storm, Johnson said would let the siblings decide on the matter as to whether Jim will stay on in his current position but it would ultimately be Jeanie’s decision to make.
“That’s her call. I can’t comment on that. I’m not one of the Buss kids. Dr. Buss put her there for a reason and so she has to make that call between them two,” said Johnson, who admitted that all the losing seasons has hurt the image of the franchise.
“It hurts. People and the sponsors want to see a better product out on the court. The good thing is the ratings are still there. They still have the best following, a strong following. So they just have to correct things on the court now,” he added.
In the past few years, it was public knowledge that Johnson did not agree with Jim Buss, but has accepted that with his new role, the two must learn to work together in order for the Purple and Gold to return to contention which he said requires radical changes.
“Look, I’ll always be an upfront guy. I have to be. I’m a CEO of my own company so I have to be honest with my employees. I’m gonna be honest with Jim, I’m gonna be honest with Mitch,” Johnson said. “I’m hoping they’re going to embrace and accept that and I’ll accept what they’re going to throw my way.”
“But at the same time something has to change. Look at the record. The record speaks for itself. It has to change. We have really good young players. We’ve got to develop these young players that we have but at the same time, at the top things have to change,” he added.