Magic Johnson reportedly played a big role in the Los Angeles Lakers landing LeBron James.
According to reports, Johnson showed up at James’ house one minute into free agency and recruited him to the Lakers for three hours.
James’ advisors reportedly said James was “enthralled” with the idea of playing under Johnson and wants to help build a contender in Los Angeles.
Magic Johnson reportedly got the first jump on recruiting LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers before getting him to agree to a four-year, $154 million contract.
The Lakers were already viewed as a heavy contender to sign James this offseason, and according to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, James and his agent and advisors had been speaking at length about his options.
But when free agency began, Johnson may have made a considerable impression on James. According to The LA Times’ Brad Turner, Johnson showed up at James’ house at 12:01 ET/9:01 PT on July 1, the minute free agency began, to recruit James to the Lakers. According to Turner, the two men talked for three hours about building the Lakers into a championship team and about off-court business.
According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, James’ four-year contract is a sign that he is committed to building a contender in the Lakers. When Johnson and James met, they reportedly discussed how to build the Lakers into a contender, with James understanding that at the moment, they are not close.
Jenkins also reported that Johnson came to James’ Brentwood home late on Saturday night. As Jenkins noted, James has never played for a team owner or president he can relate to as much as Johnson, both on the court and off of it. Johnson’s influence may have been a huge part in the Lakers landing James.
“James’s associates could sense that the idea of a partnership with Johnson enthralled him,” Jenkins wrote.
The Lakers’ next steps are unclear, and though James may be patient about building a contender, he’s 33 years old. The team is on the clock.
The relationship between Johnson and James as the team goes forward, and how their respective legacies stack up, will be an interesting subplot to James’ time with the Lakers.