- Kevork Djansezian/Getty
- Magic Johnson played a key role in convincing LeBron James to join the Los Angeles Lakers this offseason.
- While it was already known that Magic met with LeBron at his home the minute free agency opened up, Johnson recently revealed that he had waited in the driveway for an hour before approaching the door.
- Johnson’s caution was an effort to avoid any fines related to tampering, as James was still technically under contract until 9:01 p.m. Pacific time.
When the Los Angeles Lakers won the LeBron James sweepstakes earlier in July, it is likely that nobody was happier about the deal than Magic Johnson.
For Johnson, a former Laker great who had taken over as president of basketball operations in 2017, bringing in James was a huge move in the team’s rebuild as they look to become contenders for the first time since Kobe Bryant’s heyday.
Bringing in James did not come easy – Johnson reportedly showed up at James’ house the minute free agency began to make his case for the Lakers. And as Johnson revealed in comments on Tuesday, his effort to pitch James led to a bit of unintentional comedy.
According to Mike Bresnahan of Spectrum SportsNet, Johnson arrived at James’ house an hour early for their meeting, but since LeBron technically wasn’t a free agent until 9:01 p.m. Pacific time, Johnson was left to wait out the final minutes of James’ contract with the Cavaliers in his car.
Magic Johnson told @SpectrumSN he arrived an hour early for his 9:01 pm meeting with LeBron on June 30 in Los Angeles.
“I was going to sit outside for an hour until it was my time to go up to his home,” Johnson said.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) July 10, 2018
Johnson’s goal was to avoid any issues regarding tampering.
Since Johnson has taken over a larger role for the Lakers, his presence as both a front office figure and former player and commenter on the league has put him in an awkward position from time to time regarding tampering rules. Johnson has already been fined in the past for perceived tampering violations.
With the most significant potential free agent signing in the recent history of the franchise at stake, Johnson wanted to do everything in his power to make sure that he landed LeBron by the book. The result was Johnson arriving an hour early to beat Los Angeles traffic, and then waiting an hour before knocking on the door.
The move was worth the wait – LeBron is heading to the Lakers in a four-year, $153.3 million deal.