LOS ANGELES >> The Los Angeles Lakers were in a great mood, winners of one in a row, when they were asked about Magic Johnson’s comments after beating the Sacramento Kings.
Even Nick Young stopped smiling when he heard Johnson said the Lakers should lose every game to secure a high draft pick.
"It’s too early to do that right now. I’m going to have to tell Magic to stay at Dodger Stadium for a while," Young said. "He’s going to bring that smile around here. I’ll do all the smiling right now.
"I’m (probably) telling Magic, ‘You’ve got to stick with us.’ Magic always has some bold comments. I remember last year he said some crazy things. I’d just tell him, ‘Chill out for a minute’ or I’d have to knock him out once or twice."
Young was smiling by the end of his comments, but other Lakers players weren’t overly amused.
Robert Sacre exclaimed in the locker room "Less lottery balls!" and added that "no one wants to hear" talk about tanking.
Kobe Bryant took the more pragmatic approach, trying to see Johnson’s view from above. Johnson is a former minority owner of the Lakers, a role he currently holds with the Dodgers.
"I think the fans are hopefully … well, some of them are probably smart enough to understand his perspective as an owner. I certainly am," Bryant said. "Magic’s one of the most competitive players of all time. He doesn’t want to lose. From an owner’s perspective, his opinion is to get top picks and to be able to use those as leverage to trade and get a competitive team and so on."
Johnson is an unpaid vice president of the Lakers. He sold his share of the team in 2010 to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong.
The Lakers (6-16) keep their first-round draft pick only if it is a top-five selection after the lottery. Otherwise it goes to Phoenix as part of the Steve Nash trade.