Magic Johnson leaving ESPN’s NBA coverage

magic-johnsonIf you happen to be one of the few people who enjoyed listening to Magic Johnson talk about NBA games, you are not going to like this news. ESPN announced on Thursday that Magic will not be returning to the set of “NBA Countdown” next season due to his other commitments. Johnson also released a statement addressing his departure.

“I love ESPN,” Magic said. “Unfortunately, due to the nature of my schedule and other commitments, I don’t feel confident that I can continue to devote the time needed to thrive in my role. I will always feel a strong connection to the ESPN family and I enjoyed working with them very much.”

Earlier on Thursday, SI.com’s Richard Deitsch reported that Doris Burke is expected to join “NBA Countdown” as a studio analyst this season. Former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins also recently signed a contract with ESPN.

Look, I love Magic as a player and respect everything about his legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers. Who doesn’t? The guy was just simply painful to listen to and made some of the most idiotic comments I have ever heard in my life. The program can only improve in his absence.

Meanwhile, Magic’s Los Angeles Dodgers have punched their tickets to the NLCS, where they will be taking on the St. Louis Cardinals with a trip to the World Series at stake. His dealings with the Dodgers almost certainly played a decision in his role to leave ESPN.

Magic Johnson: Los Angeles Dodgers will not go after Robinson Cano

New York Yankees slugger Robinson Cano is reportedly seeking a record-setting payday this winter. If he is going to get it, the 30-year-old will likely need more than one team to step up and drive up the price on New York. According to Magic Johnson, the Los Angeles Dodgers are not planning to be one of those teams.

“I can’t talk about the other guy,” Johnson said Thursday when asked about Cano, via USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “But you already know that guy in New York is going to be paid. Not by us. But he’s going to get paid.”

Cano’s camp has to be as concerned as a group of people who are about to get a piece of at least a $200 million contract can be. We use the term “concerned” loosely because we’re not saying Cano is going to be hurting. He’s going to make upwards of $25 million per season into his late 30s, but the suitors appear to be dwindling.

Earlier this season, the Boston Red Sox signed 30-year-old second baseman Dustin Pedroia to an eight-year, $100 million contract extension. That takes one team with incredibly deep pockets out of the running. The Los Angeles Angels signed Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols to monster deals last winter, and their front office already has to be panicking about those contracts. I highly doubt they’ll be in the running for Cano.

The Dodgers have made it a point to prove that they will spare no expense since Magic and company bought the team. They have acquired huge names like Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford and have yet to sign 25-year-old Clayton Kershaw, a three-time NL All-Star, to an extension. Could Magic be bluffing? Sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if LA isn’t interested in Cano at the dollar amount he is reportedly seeking.

Of course, things can change in a hurry when the winter meetings get under way. The Yankees certainly won’t be the only team interested in Cano, but the free agent market does not seem ideal for Jay-Z’s biggest client at the moment.

Aaron Rodgers rips Magic Johnson, Jon Gruden in one brilliant tweet

magic-johnsonMagic Johnson is one of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball, but his work as a television analyst leaves a lot to be desired. He and the rest of the ESPN NBA Countdown crew can be incredibly hard to listen to at times, which is why fans hold up signs like this behind them. Like many others, Aaron Rodgers is not a fan of Magic’s commentary.

Rodgers took to Twitter Friday night after (presumably) watching the Miami Heat defeat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. He packed a serious punch with one short tweet. Not only did he rip Magic, he also took aim at Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden.

He has a point. Magic and Gruden are similar in that they shower players with over-the-top praise, although Gruden doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as Johnson. I’ve actually kind of grown to enjoy the former Tampa Bay Bucs’ coach’s “this guy” and “that guy” jargon. Nevertheless, it sounds like Rodgers has a bone to pick with ESPN in general. He’s certainly not the only one.

Magic Johnson rips Dwight Howard for ejection

Magic Johnson ripped into Dwight Howard for the big man’s performance in Game 4 of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 103-92 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday that culminated with an automatic ejection following a second technical foul.

Magic made his feelings known via what else? Twitter, of course. Here’s what the former Lakers legend said about Howard:

Magic also directed two tweets to “Laker Nation”:

“[Laker Nation]: Dwight with an already depleted team you couldn’t afford to foul out or get kicked out. Having you on the floor was the only chance for the @Lakers.

Laker Nation: I’m sooooooooooo happy the season is over. With the talent on this team this could go down as one of the worst seasons in Lakers’ history!”

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Magic Johnson would support gay Dodgers player ’150 percent’ (Video)

Magic-JohnsonMagic Johnson sat down for a candid interview with TMZ earlier this week in the wake of his son EJ walking hand-in-hand with his boyfriend down the streets of LA. Johnson and his wife Cookie have made it clear that they fully support EJ’s decision to come out publicly, which has led to a great deal of praise from athletes and other people who feel the Johnsons should serve as an influence for others in a similar situation.

As an NBA legend, MLB owner, father of an openly gay son and someone who lives with HIV, Magic is at the center of many issues involving the LGBT community. And if a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers ever decides to come out, Johnson said he will be his biggest supporter.

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Magic Johnson’s son EJ makes public appearance with his boyfriend

Magic-Johnson-sonBeing the son of an NBA legend has to come with a lot of pressure, and EJ Johnson has likely felt some of that throughout most of his life. Earlier this week, the 20-year-old son of Los Angeles Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson went public with his boyfriend. His parents were thrilled for him.

“(My wife) Cookie and I love EJ and support him in every way,” Magic told TMZ. “We’re very proud of him.”

EJ told TMZ’s camera crew that he is “hoping and praying” for the Los Angeles Dodgers to have a big year, which isn’t a surprise considering how close he and his parents are. Earvin Johnson III is one of Magic’s three kids, and Magic has spoken highly of him on Twitter in the past.

Many of you are probably thinking, “Big deal, does the guy deserve a medal for loving his son?” Hardly, but the fact of the matter is there are many people in Magic’s position who would be embarrassed by having a son who is openly gay. On the flip side, there are several people in EJ’s position who would feel inclined to keep their homosexuality a secret out of fear of the effect it would have on his or her parents. Their relationship should serve as an inspiration for people who find themselves in the same situation.

Magic Johnson offers $1 million if LeBron James participates in dunk contest

magic johnsonLeBron James has been teasing NBA fans about appearing in the Slam Dunk Contest ever since entering the league in 2003, but he has yet to participate. He even said in December that he was too old for it. But after a recent string of dominating dunks LeBron threw down in pregame warmups went viral, the hunger for James to participate has grown. Now, Magic Johnson is getting in on the act with an offer that would be difficult to decline.

During ESPN’s pregame show Friday, Magic said he would put up $1 million for LeBron to do the dunk contest. He then somewhat changed his stance by offering $1 million to the winner if LeBron participates, making the offer more of a purse than appearance fee for King James.

“Please, LeBron, get in the dunk contest. I’m going to put up a million dollars,” Johnson said on ESPN’s Kia NBA Countdown. “A million dollars from Magic to LeBron. Please get in the dunk contest. I go every year. I want to see you out there. A million to the winner.”

At halftime, ESPN’s Bill Simmons even said he would throw in $200,000 to the offer, though it seemed like he might have been joking.

Now it is all on James, assuming Magic sticks to his word. LeBron said last year that he would do the dunk contest if they paid $1 million, so he has no excuse now. The dunk contest currently pays $100,000 to the winner and $50,000 to the runner up.

Here is the dunk LeBron did in pregame warmups over the weekend to get everyone excited, and below is a video of LeBron throwing down some jams before Friday’s home game against the Memphis Grizzlies:

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