Magic Johnson/Associated Press file photo by Reed Saxon
Magic Johnson helped play host to a Los Angeles news conference Monday to announce the intention to build a 22,000-seat stadium that would house the expansion Los Angeles Football Club that will play in the MLS. Johnson is one of several in the ownership group.
During his time with reporters, Johnson was asked about the Clippers falling in seven games to the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals. Never shy to speak his mind, Johnson said quite a bit.
“Well, I was disappointed because Chris Paul is my good friend, Doc Rivers is a good friend and I want them to win and get the monkey off their backs,” Johnson said.
He then talked about Game 6, when the Clippers blew a 19-point lead late in the third quarter. Not only did they lose that one 119-107 at home at Staples Center, they missed their best chance to close out the series and advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history. The Clippers lost Game 7 by a 113-100 count Sunday in Houston.
“I thought they missed the opportunity in Game 6,” Johnson said. “You gotta close out at home. You can’t allow it to go to a Game 7. If you think about all the Lakers heydays, when we had closeout games and we had them in the Forum or Staples Center with Kobe (Bryant) and Shaq (O’Neal) or with my Showtime Lakers, we closed out. So when you have your opportunity, you gotta close out.
“I remember when we didn’t, in terms of we had the Celtics in seven games and we lost there, that will haunt us forever and this loss will haunt the Clippers forever because they had their opportunity up 20 in the third quarter. You gotta win that game in the Staples Center. So we’ll see what happens.”
Johnson intimated he’s hopeful the Clippers can get over the hump.
“I wish them well because I want so bad for Chris Paul to have his opportunity to play in the championship,” he said. “I want that for him. He’s meant a lot to the league, but also to the fans here in Los Angeles because this is a Lakers town, but we like Chris Paul. We do. We love the way he plays, his leadership.
“Blake (Griffin) has really grown. You saw him grow up this season and really do some wonderful things. But at the same time, it’s going to be tough for them to swallow this.”