Magic waited 1 hour in car before courting LeBron
Like an anxious date, Magic Johnson arrived an hour early for his scheduled meeting with LeBron James on June 30, and waited in his car outside James’ California home until the moment arrived.
The Lakers president of basketball operations, talking to Spectrum SportsNet about how the James signing came about, said his pitch to the superstar that night wasn’t about the legacy of the Lakers.
“He didn’t need to hear that. He already knew the team, maybe better than I did. He broke the roster down right in front of me. … He knew every single guy, the strength and weaknesses on our team.”
Johnson said his conversation with James, which began at 9:01 p.m. PT, when free agency began, was mostly two guys talking about basketball.
“We had a great time of going back and forth, here we are two guys, similar,” Johnson said. “Both from the Midwest. Both grew up poor. Both love to compete. Both love to win, and I think both excel at the highest level. We connected right when I walked in the door. Just two guys that talk free to each other, and talk basketball, and that’s what I love about LeBron.”
Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said he received a text from James’ agent, Rich Paul, around 4:30 p.m. the next day.
“The text just said ‘Congrats,’ and it had balloons,” Pelinka said. “It was one of those moments in life you’ll never ever forget. Everything went in slow motion.”
James followed up with a phone call a few minutes later, Pelinka said.
There wasn’t a lot of fanfare when James signed his contract Monday, the GM said.
“He’s not looking to celebrate signing,” Pelinka said. “He’s looking to celebrate championships and he made that real clear.”