The Los Angeles Lakers were amidst an opening night blowout at the hands of the former junior varsity Clippers when Lawrence Tanter’s voice swept over the crowd announcing that the Los Angeles Dodgers were heading to the World Series.
Earvin Johnson stood from his seat, clapped and shot that Magical smile for all to see. He earned this moment, not with the the hands-on approach he’s taken with these Lakers, but by understanding his own limits and entrusting a select group of supremely talented baseball minds with the day-to-day operations of running a team.
Wouldn’t it be nice if he operated in the same fashion with these Lakers, at least until he understands what it takes to be successful in rooms where the only hardwood are the desks holding computers, spreadsheets and phones? We know what Magic could do on a basketball court, but he still lacks literally any experience managing an organization.
Take a look at the way the Dodgers have operated.
When the front office was being overhauled, they didn’t hire some former Dodger great hoping the headlines would be enough to take everyone’s mind off of their lack of experience. No, Andrew Friedman was brought in with pretty clear logic: If he was able to compete in the same division as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees with exponentially less money to spend, well, the sky’s the limit with the Dodgers’ budget.
When Don Mattingly was finally shown the door, they didn’t settle on Dusty Baker, whom many saw as the obvious choice because of his Dodgers ties and lengthy resumé to that point. No, they cast a wide net and finally landed on Dave Roberts, who won the Manager of the Year award his rookie season and will be managing in the World Series as a sophomore.
When fans freaked out about an organization having failed to make a World Series going on nearly three decades, the Dodgers didn’t cave to the pressure with a knee-jerk move that might risk the future. No, they maintained their course and reached the sport’s pinnacle anyway, with an insanely bright future intact.
So Magic, having watched this success firsthand should recognize what went into it, right?
The Dodgers are at the forefront of advances in the way baseball is played. Bullpens are vital. Depth wins over individual talent — though the latter is still important. Everything you hear about positionless basketball applies directly to these Dodgers, as guys like Kiké Hernandez, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and on down the line played all over the field.
If there’s a theory on how better to improve their chances of winning, the Dodgers roll with it. That’s what teams have to do, as professional sports become as much about market efficiencies as media markets, themselves.
The Dodgers have become that special example of what happens when a large market applies small market tendencies so as to flex financial freedom whenever it can. Yes, the MLB and NBA cap are hugely different, but the creativity used to get the Dodgers where they are comes from ingenuity born from necessity.
Magic witnessed this up-close for years. Let’s all hope he was paying attention.