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Sports: Magic Johnson’s Group Wins Bid For Dodgers At $2 Billion

When I saw this last night, I was beyond excited!!! If you grew up in LA then you know how HUGE this is, for LA. Magic Johnson, is the MAN for pulling this off, I cannot imagine what a great feeling it must have been for him. GO DODGERS!!! All time Laker great, Magic Johnson, is exactly what the DODGERS needed…I bet everybody & they mama are screaming GO DOYERS!!! haha

LA Times reports — Go ahead, Los Angeles, dig out that dusty Dodgers cap and unwrinkle that Dodger Stadium seating chart and shout yourself blue again. Go ahead, it’s safe now, after two years in hell your city’s most enduring sports team has just been placed in the giant hands of its most enduring sports star.

A group headed by Magic Johnson has just purchased the Dodgers from Frank McCourt for $2 billion, ending a prolonged nightmare with a soaring slam dunk.

Mark Walter, chief executive of the $126-billion Guggenheim Partners financial company based in Chicago, will be the controlling owner of a group that will be led by Johnson and directed by longtime respected baseball executive Stan Kasten.

McCourt sold the Dodgers to Johnson’s group Tuesday just five hours after Major League Baseball approved three finalists for an auction. As I wrote in a column that appeared on the Internet an hour before the news broke, Johnson’s group was the obvious and best choice over out-of-town billionaires Steve Cohen and Stan Kroenke.

After successfully boycotting Dodger Stadium enough to convince MLB to run McCourt out of town, Dodgers fans are distrusting and disillusioned, and Johnson’s group is the only one with the credibility to quickly bring them back.

Johnson, whose business acumen equals his former Lakers court sense, will become a full-time team executive with an office in Dodger Stadium and a giant welcoming reach that will stretch to every corner of the disaffected Dodgers nation. Kasten, a traditional baseball guy who built the perennially contending Atlanta Braves from scratch and help shape the surging Washington Nationals, was interested in the Dodgers before McCourt bought the team in 2004 and has long held a dream of restoring them to greatness.

When I interviewed Johnson in December when The Times broke the news of his decision to pursue the team, he said, “The Dodgers are my next big thing. This is not just millions of my money, this is dear to my heart. This is bringing back the brand for the people of Los Angeles.”

At the time, Johnson said his goal would be to bring the Dodgers back to the popularity level currently enjoyed by his former team.

“When I first got to town [in 1979], the Dodgers were on Page 1 of the L.A. Times and the Lakers were on Page 3,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen how the Dodgers can be as big as the Lakers, and I want that to happen again.”

We know little about Walter and the Guggenheim folks, who will fund their majority contribution from out-of-state insurance companes, but we know that they have convinced Johnson and Kasten that it’s not about real estate or television, but baseball.

In that same December interview, Johnson said he auditioned six prospective bidders before deciding on the Guggenheim group for winning reasons.

“The first thing I asked Walter was, ‘Do you want to win, and do you want to put money in?” Johnson said at the time. “He said, ‘Absolutely.'”

Johnson said the future Dodgers owner says the things you hear from championship owners.

“Listening to Walter talk about winning, it was like listening to Jerry Buss,” Johnson said. “He told me three times, ‘All I want to do is get to the World Series.’ I know great owners, and this guy can be a great owner.”

Of course, once the initial love fest ends, the tough stuff begins.

The new owners know that Dodgers fans are not a bunch of poor saps on a deserted beach standing around an “SOS” rock formation and waiting desperately for the first ship to save them. They know that Dodgers fans are, instead, huddled and hidden in a clump of trees in the middle of the island, defiant, distrustful, and willing to remain out of sight until somebody shows up with enough smarts and savvy and charm to coax them back home.

Two billion dollars will buy the new owners no love or respect or even 30,000 folks on a school night in September. Two billion dollars will only buy them two billion questions from the toughest crowd they’ve ever faced.

Those hundreds of thousands of Dodgers fans who abandoned Chavez Ravine will need more than simple answers. They will need action, they will need explanation, they will need a group that can proactively reestablish the bonds of this city’s most enduring yet most abused connection with a sports franchise.

In my opinion, they needed Magic.

On Tuesday night, they got him, and the fastbreak is on.

Magic Johnson, Laker Legend, Entered Bidding War To Buy Dodgers!!!

I sure hope this happens, I will watch baseball again if it does!!!

LA Times reports — Johnson announced Friday that he had joined forces with Guggenheim Baseball Management, an arm of a financial services firm that controls more than $125 billion in assets, in hopes of buying the Dodgers.

With Johnson serving as the point man for a group that will be backed by the prestigious Guggenheim brand and led by respected veteran baseball executive Stan Kasten, it’s a potential dream team.

The complete list of bidders hasn’t emerged, but at this early point it would be difficult to find a group with a stronger combination of deep pockets, a deep Los Angeles connection, and deep affection for the Dodgers.

“I am so hyped, I’m ready to start right now,” said Johnson in a phone interview Friday morning. “The Dodgers have been so important to this community for so many years, for so many reasons. I’ve lived through it all like everyone else and I want to make them great again.”

Johnson is that rare former sports star whose business acumen has matched his athleticism. Since retiring from the Lakers in 1996, he has made millions in investments that have focused on rebuilding inner cities. His substantial portfolio includes Starbucks franchises and movie theaters and a piece of the Lakers, which he recently sold.

“The Dodgers are my next big thing,” Johnson said. “This is not just millions of my money, this is dear to my heart. This is bringing back the brand for the people of Los Angeles.” Johnson said his investment is based on memories from 30 years ago, when the Dodgers were bigger than even his beloved Lakers.

“When I first got to town, the Dodgers were on Page One of the L.A. Times and the Lakers were on Page Three,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen how the Dodgers can be as big as the Lakers, and I want that to happen again.”

In searching for the right fit for his Dodger dreams, Johnson researched six prospective Dodger bidders, then interviewed each of them, beginning each session with one question.

“I asked them, ‘What is your play here; do you want this team for the baseball or the real estate?”’ Johnson recalled. “I wasn’t interested in anybody who wasn’t going to make baseball the priority.”

If they answered the first question correctly, Johnson asked them a second question.

“I would then ask them, ‘OK, once you buy it, do you have enough money to turn them into champions?”’ Johnson said. “There are groups that will spend everything just to buy the team, and I didn’t want that.”

When Johnson met Mark Walter, Guggenheim’s CEO, he was convinced. “The first thing I asked Walter was, ‘Do you want to win, and do you want to put money in?”’ Johnson said. “He said, ‘Absolutely.”’

Johnson said the interview with Walter reminded him of discussions with another owner. “Listening to Walter talk about winning, it was like listening to Jerry Buss,” Johnson said. “He told me three times, all I want to do is get to the World Series. I know great owners, and this guy can be a great owner.”

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