During a recent appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, NBA legend Earvin “Magic Johnson” explained in detail how he brokered the $154 million dollar deal for Lebron James to come and play for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Magic, who is the current president of basketball operations of the Lakers, jokingly said he wore green during the interview to pay homage to Larry Bird. And then, he went into the details of how during his big meeting with Lebron he was able to negotiate what many are calling one of basketball’s biggest moments in history.
Going to Lebron’s house
NBA regulations say that free agents can not be approached by other teams or recruiters until 9:01am on June 30th. If they violate this rule, they will be fined $500,000.
Magic says his team had to call and ask Lebron’s agent for a meeting with him, and when Lebron agreed to a meeting at his home… but only with Magic. “I was ready,” Magic said. “I work best by myself.”
He then says that he showed up at Lebron’s house at 8am, an hour early, and patiently waited in the car until 9:01 am to ring the doorbell.
Sealing the deal
“We did our homework,” Magic said. “And we had a strong argument for him to come join the Lakers.”
He continued, “I had a sense of what [Lebron] wanted and what he was looking for, but had to get in front of him to sell him on it.”
Magic said that when he met with Lebron, he was dressed very sharp and looked very relaxed. “But this guy is so smart,” Magic said. He was highly impressed at how well Lebron knew every player on the Lakers team, including their strengths and weaknesses… and how he could fit in to win championships.
On paying him so much
“Lebron James brings a championship mentality to our team,” Magic said. “This deal has changed the NBA for the better, and the Lakers for the better.”
That deal, one of the most expensive in NBA history, is a 4-year deal for $154 million dollars. And Magic says he did not hesitate on giving Lebron what he wanted. “I thought I was going to get a discount, but I didn’t ask,” he joked. “But I wanted [Lebron] so bad that I didn’t want to mess that deal up.”
So, he said, “I told Lebron that we would pay him whatever he wants.”