Magic Johnson says Clippers’ loss to Rockets will haunt them forever

Magic Johnson

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.”

Doc Rivers, Chris Paul respond to Magic Johnson’s negative tweet after Game 2

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Magic Johnson sent out two tweets following the Clippers’ heartbreaking 111-107 overtime loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series at Staples Center. One praised the Spurs: “The Spurs showed great mental toughness tonight in the win over the Clippers. That’s why they are the defending NBA champs.”

The other ripped the Clippers:  “The Clippers lack of mental toughness and costly turnovers are the reasons they lost the game tonight.”

The latter had to be in reference to Blake Griffin’s turnover with 11.9 seconds left in regulation and the Clippers ahead by two points. Clippers coach Doc Rivers on Friday responded.

“Well, they won,” Rivers said. “To the victors goes the spoils. I’m never going to argue with Magic Johnson. They won the game. I thought we showed great  mental toughness because we were the team down. I think people forget that. We were down 10 points in the fourth Quarter.

“I mean, we were actually the team that came back. And then we gave it up at the end. But we came back in that game. So I think if anybody showed mental toughness, it was us. And them; they’re going to have it. They, again, are champions. They’re not going anywhere. They’re not going to be shaken.”

Chris Paul looked perplexed when told of Johnson’s negative tweet.

“No, I didn’t know that,” Paul said at the morning shootaround ahead of Game 3 at AT&T Center in San Antonio. “I haven’t been on Twitter. I mean, that’s his opinion. I saw Magic at Sunday brunch last week, you know what I mean? So …”

Full transcript: Magic Johnson responds to Donald Sterling in CNN interview

Trancript courtesy of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360°.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We begin our conversation today talking about the first recording that surfaced, the recording that started it all.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: When you first heard the audiotape that was released a couple of weeks ago, what did you think?

EARVIN “MAGIC” JOHNSON, FORMER NBA PLAYER: Well, I was just — I was blown away.

I was — I couldn’t believe that he had said those things, first of all, made those statements, those racist statements, and then, you know, threw me in, “Don’t bring him to my games.”

And so you personally attack me. And so — and I had known Donald, not very well. I knew him. I have met with him three or four times, been to his office.

COOPER: So, how — I mean, so you — so were you guys friends?

JOHNSON: Yes.

COOPER: You were acquaintances?

JOHNSON: I would say we were friends.

My first trip, when I got here in L.A. over 35 — about 35 years ago, Dr. Buss took me to his beach house for his annual beach house party in the summertime. So that was one of the first things that I did.

So, to reflect back to that, to these statements he made about myself and minorities, it was just disappointing. It was — I was in disbelief that he would say these things, and then, you know, to throw me into the situation. Continue reading

Lakers great Magic Johnson talks briefly on sale of Clippers and Donald Sterling

On Monday evening, Lakers great Magic Johnson spoke to students at Long Beach State University at a closed to the public event. Students were allowed to ask Johnson questions during the Q/A portion and the question on everyone’s mind was finally asked: Is Magic interested in buying the Clippers?

“I don’t know what me and my group are going to do,” said Johnson when asked about his interest in the Clippers. “But I will say this, 20 people have already called me interested in partnering up with me, so money will not be an option”

When the initial question was asked, many cheered, but there were some boos (presumably from Lakers fans). But Johnson also admitted that if he actually did try to purchase the Clippers that it would be a “battle for him personally,” due to his allegiance to the Lakers franchise.

“I really truly love the Lakers,” said Johnson. “I am a Laker. So that will be interesting.”

Johnson has been rumored to be eyeing the Clippers, hoping to be add to his Southern California empire that includes the Dodgers and the L.A. Sparks in the wake of Sterling’s ban from the NBA for his racist comments, which mentioned Johnson.

“It’s a sad day. Racism. Discrimination. It’s why do we still have to go through that, here we are in 2014,” said Johnson. “While I was upset, I feel sorry for him, living in the past. It’s just uncalled for.”

The Lakers great reminded the audience that the Clippers are not actually for sale as of yet, with the NBA owners still needing to vote Sterling out. Johnson figured that sale would not happen for another eight months to a year.

“There is no way that man walks away without a battle,” said Johnson.

The Clippers question was also brought up earlier in the talk, when a student asked Johnson what did he want to accomplish in his life that he had not already. When Johnson paused, a student yelled out “buy the Clippers,” at which point Johnson and the room burst into laughter.

“Buying the Clippers,” said Johnson jokingly. “That would be it.”

Chris Paul is quite the helper, but has a long way to go to catch all-time leaders

Point guard Chris Paul is averaging a league-high 10.9 assists this season. That is absolutely terrific, and there is no question he is headed toward an eventual date with the Hall of Fame.

But the 28-year-old out of Wake Forest has a long way to go to catch those in front of him on the all-time leader board. He has 5,996 assists overall, which puts him in 27th place. The leader is John Stockton, who had 15,806 over 19 seasons. He is well ahead of second-place Jason Kidd’s 12,091. Paul will climb much higher on that ladder before he’s done, but it will be all but impossible to catch Stockton.

Average-wise, Paul is in much better position. He is averaging 9.9. That is third all-time behind Magic Johnson (11.1) and Stockton (10.5). Johnson, by the way, is fifth in total assists with 10,141 in 13 seasons.

Paul is currently in his ninth season.