By Jim McCarthy Mar 28, 2012 0 comments

It’s Magic!

The great Magic Johnson and a group of other investors has bought the Dodgers from the not so great McCourts.  This is an outstanding day for Los Angeles and anybody who cares about the vitality of baseball.

The Dodgers, let me remind you, are the team of Jackie Robinson, of Branch Rickey, of the O’Malleys, of Fernando Valenzuela.  In other words, the Dodgers have played a big role in creating the culture of modern America.  But for the last several years, the franchise has gone from being one of the things that was right about Southern California to something typifying that is wrong with our country:  An owner, in it for his own interest, short-term focused, leveraged to the hilt, unappreciative of the past and not creating value for the future.  I won’t dwell on the fact that Frank McCourt will walk away from this truly rich for the first time.  This is the consequence of putting the wrong people in influential positions.

Magic and his friends paid $2 billion for this franchise despite the last several years, not because of it.  I suspect it’s because Magic sees the potential greatness of the organization.  He’s always been good at that.  And what’s more, he’s always been about Los Angeles and what’s best for the city and the region.  He stood in the smoldering ruins of the ’92 riots and vowed to build on them, and he did.  Just like Mike Ilich of the Detroit Tigers, Magic can be counted on to use the baseball team as a way of creating a whole range of good outcomes.

Here’s something from a piece I wrote a while back about Magic, the first part being a quote from a New York Times article from 2000:

“Johnson employs roughly 3,000 people who live in inner-city neighborhoods across the country. Over the next two hours, as Johnson sips herbal tea and tirelessly plays host, he talks about the satisfaction of employing people. In his recent venture in Harlem, Johnson’s multiplex, which opened in July, and the Harlem USA mall it is part of, have sparked a renaissance of 125th Street. Last summer, after the Harlem theater hired 100 people from the 5,000 who had waited in line to apply, Johnson decided that he wanted his new staff to go through four weeks of rigorous training. On opening day, dozens of young men and women stood before him in pressed uniforms. “Just looking at those faces, the hope and pride,” he says, remembering the scene, “that may have been the best moment of my life, right there.”

Not winning the five NBA championships or an Olympic Gold Medal.  Not surviving AIDS.  The best moment of his life is seeing the “hope and pride” of the young people in Harlem that were going to work for him.

Yes, we could use some of that not just here in LA, but all over the country, don’t you think?

Congratulations, Mr. Johnson.  We can’t wait to work with you.

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