Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson compares Madison Bumgarner to Larry Bird.

Magic Johnson

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Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson was presented The Legacy Award on Tuesday evening at the annual Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year event in New York.

During his acceptance speech, he compared San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner to former Boston Celtics star Larry Bird:

“There’s only one person that I hate, love and respect and that’s Larry Bird. I hated him. I loved him. And I respected him so much that I knew if I made a mistake, he would get me the next year. Well, I now have the second person right in front of me – Madison Bumgarner. I hate him because he plays for the Giants and beats us. I love him because he’s so good. And I respect him because he’s such a competitor and his will to win is off the charts.”

Daily Distractions: Imagining a world in which the Dodgers and Clippers are owned by the same group.

Magic Johnson

Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson is reportedly interested in buying the Clippers if Donald Sterling is forced to sell the team. (Getty Images)

Baseball’s Detroit Tigers and hockey’s Detroit Red Wings have been owned by the same man, Mike Ilitch, since 1992. There is little overlap between the MLB and NHL seasons, so it’s not hard to share the same core group of fans. There are no other MLB or NHL teams in town. For his part, Ilitch quickly turned the Red Wings from a loser into one of hockey’s most valuable brands. By the time he bought the Tigers, he had built up enough goodwill in the city to be welcomed by local baseball fans with open arms.

For those who question if it’s possible to own two teams in the same market, look no further than Detroit.

Los Angeles is not Detroit, of course, and it might be time to start asking questions in Southern California. Magic Johnson has reportedly expressed interest in buying the NBA’s Clippers from disgraced owner Donald Sterling. What would it look like if the Dodgers and Clippers were owned by the same group?

Fans already boo Clippers star Chris Paul whenever he’s shown on the video board at Dodger Stadium. Pau Gasol and other Lakers are cheered like the hometown team. Clearly, Dodger Stadium is a Laker stadium. This might get weird.

Or will it? If Johnson is the face of Dodger ownership, he’s also the face of the WNBA’s Sparks and Magic Johnson Theaters. His name is not synonymous with the Dodgers; it’s synonymous with “multiple business interests.” In theory, it should be easy to put the Clippers in the context of Another Magic Johnson Business Interest. Same goes for the other Guggenheim investors; it’s yet to be seen how many of them want in on the Clippers.

In practice, how weird this gets might depend on why Dodger fans boo Clipper players. Is it a knee-jerk reaction to the Clipper brand from Laker fans? Is it because of Sterling? Is it just a Chris Paul thing?

Sterling might be replaceable; we’ll find out soon enough. Paul’s time as a Clipper is inherently temporary. But if it’s a knee-jerk reaction from Laker fans, this might not go over well.

Johnson was a minority owner of the Lakers until 2010, when he sold his shares to Patrick Soon-Shiong, but that didn’t really change his status as a face of (and a mouthpiece for) the Lakers franchise. A world in which Magic Johnson owns the Clippers could be an uncomfortable one for Laker fans. This could be perceived as heel turn worse than Phil Jackson joining the Knicks’ front office.

Johnson said last October in Atlanta that Los Angeles can be both a Lakers town and a Dodgers town. Selling Dodger fans on the idea that this can be a Clipper town too might be beyond even Johnson’s long reach.

Some bullet points for an International Astronomy Day:
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SportsNet LA releases details about its initial night of programming.

Vin Scully

Vin Scully will work the first Dodgers spring training telecast on SportsNet LA. (Associated Press photo)

The Dodgers announced the programming lineup for launch night of SportsNet LA, the team-owned network set to debut next Tuesday at 7 p.m.

The evening will begin with “Access SportsNet: Dodgers,” followed by the inaugural episode of “Backstage: Dodgers,” back-to-back “Connected With…” interview shows featuring Clayton Kershaw and Don Mattingly and a one-hour retrospective special about last year’s season.

Among the other “prominent Dodger personalities” that will be featured that night are co-owner Earvin “Magic” Johnson, broadcaster Vin Scully, and special advisor Tommy Lasorda.

SportsNet LA is still attempting to find carriers in addition to Time Warner. As of right now, only Time Warner subscribers will be able to tune in when the network goes live. A spokesperson for the network said that the channel number still hasn’t been announced.

Here are some more details, provided by the team, about SportsNet LA’s debut-night programs:

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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers buy the Sparks, sort of.

The WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks are now property of the Dodgers. Sort of.

Under the terms of a just-completed sale, the Sparks belong to five of the six people who own the Dodgers: Magic Johnson, Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly. Peter Guber, who co-owns both the Dodgers and the Golden State Warriors, isn’t involved in the Sparks purchase.

Colleague Jill Painter reports that Johnson was the only member of the unnamed group who spoke Wednesday at a press conference at Staples Center. Johnson said that he and Walter decided about two weeks ago to place a bid on the franchise while the two were sharing a flight. “We came in at the 11th hour,” Johnson said.

Kasten, the Dodgers’ president and CEO, declined comment on what his role would be beyond financier.

Yesterday we speculated about whether Sparks games would wind up on SportsNet LA if the Dodgers purchased the Sparks. That won’t happen.

The Sparks have a contract with Time Warner through 2016. Time Warner owns TWC SportsNet, which has been carrying Sparks games the past two seasons. The Dodgers (technically, American Media Productions) own SportsNet LA.

Some bullet points for a National Weatherperson’s Day:

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If Magic Johnson buys the Sparks, will the Dodgers’ network have a second tenant?

A press conference has been scheduled for 10 a.m. tomorrow involving representatives of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson. The Sparks are up for sale. Johnson has money.

That’s about all we know at the moment. Connect the dots at your own leisure.

Here’s what we don’t know:
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Magic Johnson on Robinson Cano: ‘He’s going to get paid — not by us, but he’s going to get paid.”

Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano and his recently hired agent, rapper Jay Z, are asking for too much money to be counted among the Dodgers’ priorities. (Getty Images)

Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson all but ruled out making a run at free agent second baseman Robinson Cano prior to the Dodgers’ NLDS opener against the Atlanta Braves on Thursday.

Johnson was discussing re-signing pitcher Clayton Kershaw when he mentioned Cano, though not by name. Asked how much more expensive Kershaw would become if he went 5-0 in the postseason, Johnson said “we’re not worried about that.”

“We already know we’ve got to give (Kershaw) a lot of money, what’s a few more zeroes?” Johnson said, laughing. “I hope he goes 5-0. I’ll take that all day long. This young man is going to get paid.

“I can’t talk about the other guy, the guy in New York. He’s going to get paid — not by us, but he’s going to get paid. When you’re a superstar, you get paid. We understand that.”
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Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson praises Don Mattingly, won’t to commit to manager beyond 2013.

Magic Johnson

Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson wasn’t keen on discussing Don Mattingly’s future with the Dodgers on Thursday. (Getty Images)

Asked if he has decided to bring back manager Don Mattingly, Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson was less than definitive on Thursday.

“We’re going to deal with all contracts after the season,” he said. “Nothing has changed. We understand we’ve got guys that we have to have back, but we’re going to deal with it after the season. Same thing I said two months ago is the same thing I’m saying today.

“That’s between Stan and Ned,” Johnson added. “All we’re going to talk about today is Game 1.”
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Daily Distractions: This scavenger hunt is a suite deal for fans.

Magic Johnson

Magic Johnson with Rachel Robinson on Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium. Photo by Getty Images

Want to meet Magic Johnson?

Sorry — to #MeetMagic?

The Dodgers are hosting a scavenger hunt to give seven fans a chance to meet the Dodgers’ co-owner and receive two suite tickets to his sold-out Bobblehead Night game Sept. 12 against the San Francisco Giants.

The rules: Beginning at 2 p.m. today, and around the same time each of the next six days, @Dodgers will tweet a clue related to the specific location of a Magic Johnson bobblehead with hashtag #MeetMagic. You need to travel to the location of the Bobblehead, find the Dodger Blue Crew member with the Bobblehead, and correctly answer a trivia question. The bobbleheads are going to be placed at “several iconic Southern California locations.” That’s all we know.

You can only win one pair of tickets, which are valued at $1,000. Some more rules can be found here.

Some bullet points for a Rosh Hashana:
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Daily Distractions: Dodgers reportedly sign Brian Wilson to minor-league contract.

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson has appeared in two major-league games since the end of the 2011 season. (Getty Images)


According to multiple reports this morning, the Dodgers have signed former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson to a minor-league contract.

Wilson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in April 2012, tried out for the New York Mets in January but was unimpressive. Pitchers who undergo Tommy John surgery typically need 12 to 18 months to fully recover, sometimes more, so it stands to reason that Wilson has improved considerably in the last six months. He tried out recently with representatives from several teams in attendance; conveniently for the Dodgers, Wilson lives in Southern California.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti was the Giants’ assistant general manager in 2003, when San Francisco took Wilson in the 23rd round of the June draft. Evidently Wilson bore some resemblance to his pre-Tommy John self at the recent tryout, beard and all.

As we reasoned yesterday, the Dodgers don’t really need to add a player with the non-waiver trade deadline about 24 hours away. They still might make a trade. But signing a pitcher who’s appeared in two games since the end of 2011 — to a minor-league deal, no less — isn’t the kind of impact move that contenders gear up for at the trade deadline, regardless of his reputation or facial hair. Wilson’s resumé includes more saves from 2008 to 2011 (163) than any pitcher in baseball.

Rather it’s a move that signals the Dodgers are looking ahead to the postseason. Wilson has 10 games of postseason experience, all with the Giants during their 2010 World Series run. That year, he saved six games in seven opportunities. Wilson would still have to be added to the Dodgers’ 40-man roster between now and October but, as was the case with Carlos Marmol, it makes sense for a contending team to stockpile former closers as Plans A, B and C should Kenley Jansen falter, or fall victim to illness (like last year) or injury.

The Dodgers have that luxury with Brandon League, Marmol and now Wilson.

Onto some bullet points:
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Dodgers’ minor leaguers get their first exposure to major-league camp.

There were a number of fresh faces on the major-league fields today who migrated from the Dodgers’ minor-league camp.

“That’s kind of been a plan — just talking about integrating” the two sides, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve tried to hit on the back field early in camp. When the pitchers are doing their work, we’ve had guys hitting back there with the minor leaguers. It was only three days this year, so they lockered over here. During those first two camps they were lockering over there. Where you get the minor league guys get exposed to Matt (Kemp) and different guys. I think it’s nice that we’ve got a little bit of a new program where our guys can work out together.

“That’s been the development-side thinking, trying to integrate those guys. I know we’ve got some guys who are going to go over and talk to the kids. We’re all one. … I had to talk about it this morning, what (team president) Stan (Kasten) has talked about is building the system back. I know that when you bring all these guys in that we’ve brought in at once, that’s big, bold splashes right away to kind of get the team on opportunity right away. But you listen to Magic (Johnson) and Stan and these guys, they want to try to win every year. To do that, that side over there has got to get strong, where that’s coming through. We need to keep integrating. The idea of having the clubhouses closer, having them all together. When those guys know it’s not that far away it’s a good thing.”

Mattingly added that the minor-league players aren’t missing out on anything they wouldn’t be doing otherwise by switching sides, as both camps have integrated new training methods this year.