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Magic Johnson talks about possibly owning an NFL team or the Dodgers

July 31, 2011 | 12:31 pm

Magic Johnson's boisterous laugh and filibustering masked his interest in possibly purchasing the Dodgers: "If the Dodgers ever came up for sale, would I take a look at it with some other people? Of course you would look at it. The brand is so strong. But as we speak today, they do have an owner."

Johnson's smile and recollection as a Rams and Raiders season ticket holder when they played in L.A. revealed his outward interest in being part of AEG's ownership group should an NFL team return to the City of Angels: "Yes, because I'm such a big football fan."

In a one-on-one discussion Saturday at Loyola Marymount University with Times columnist Bill Plaschke, it became clear that Johnson's cemented legacy with Los Angeles will go beyond his storied Lakers career. It could be connected to Dodger blue, whom he recalled commanded more city and media attention than the Lakers did even during the Showtime Era. It could also be connected to a future NFL team in Los Angeles, with plans to build Farmers Field near L.A. Live possibly becoming a reality. As indicated by his various business ventures, ranging from movie theaters, Starbucks franchises and, most recently, with Detroit Venture Partners, Johnson's involvement with either organization would bolster immediate credibility, with his previous business involvements adding substance to his already strong name in L.A.

It remains to be seen how events unfold. 

The Dodgers have soon plummeted in Major League Baseball, as Frank McCourt's dragged-out divorce case exacerbates concerns on whether it has the resources to field a contending team, let alone making payroll. As soon as Johnson reminded everyone that McCourt still owns the Dodgers, everyone at the event Saturday at Loyola Marymount University booed, a sound that became even louder when Johnson reminded the crowd, "as we much as we might not like him, we do have an owner."

"It's never good to talk about an organization that already has an owner," Johnson said. "But I will say this, the Dodger brand is a amazing. What the O'Malley family used to do they were great owners."

Talk over an NFL team returning to Los Angeles had long been considered a pipe dream. But it's appeared to be more than wishful thinking, as AEG's Tim Lieweke will find out by the end of the month whether the L.A. City Council will  issue roughly $300 million in bonds and approve the just-completed memorandum of understanding for a stadium deal. Johnson acknowledged being a part of L.A.'s future NFL team should it happen remains a bigger priority than purchasing the Dodgers.

"I am working hard with Tim Leiweke and AEG to bring football and the NFL back to our city," Johnson said. "I'm hoping that will happen. I would love to be a part of the ownership group with Tim. Right now, first we got to get the city council to vote to approve. If that happens, I will look to be a part of the ownership group."


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