Will Riles and Magic Do Deals?
Pat Riley and Magic Johnson have had a unique relationship for nearly 40 years as allies and adversaries.
Now, not only are the two on opposite sides, but in the same capacity with Johnson joining the Lakers as team president this year, the same title Riley holds with the Miami Heat.
On Monday, the two were together at the "American Express Teamed Up" event in Los Angeles, as part of a panel moderated by Cari Champion. The Hall of Famers were asked questions about a variety of subjects including their time together in Los Angeles where they won four titles with Riley as the head coach and Magic the point guard; this year's Finals; and who would win a game of 1-on-1 between Magic and LeBron James.
Here are Riley's views on different subjects:
On what will happen when he and Magic talk trades:
"It depends on who calls who first. If I call him first then he ain't going to say anything. If he calls me first I'm going to say, 'I know that I can make your team better. ... Let's have a conversation, let's forget about the cap ramifications and start talking player personal. ... I got a treasure of players. ...'"
On the best way to make a deal:
"Here's what I learned from (ex-Laker top executive) Jerry (West) and everybody that's been in management: If you go into any kind of a transaction and try to make a deal with a team, it's got to be fair. When it's a fair deal and I really think it's something that is going to help both teams, I will pay a nickel more. My daddy always told me, 'pay a nickel more for whatever it is you need.' And I have an owner (Micky Arison) that will pay more than a nickel more. He's got about 107 cruise ships out there."
On what Magic will learn in his new job:
"The one thing is he's going to find out because he's been away from the competition for so long. ... When I went from coaching to the front office my first three months I was actually in fits because I had lost control. You lose control of the team and the game because you're just selecting players. One thing you don't want to do as the president is second guess your coach too much, don't go into the locker room, don't hang around too much.
"He was the all-time leader of all leaders on the Lakers. He's going to sit up there in that box of his and when things aren't going good the first year he's going to want to go down there and be (presumed Lakers' first-round pick) Lonzo Ball's mentor."
On whether the Cavaliers-Warriors rivalry is like the Lakers-Celtics of the 1980s:
"There's a coaches standpoint and there's a players standpoint. There's no hatred in this series. When the Lakers and the Celtics where banging heads back in the ' 80s and we played each other we had to carry the albatross of the Lakers losing six times (in The Finals) in the ' 60s to the Celtics. And so there was a lot of bitterness carried and had really built up.
"By the time we played in 1984, Earvin had won a title in 1980. Larry Bird had won his in ' 81. ... Now Celtics-Lakers in '84, we lose in a seven-game series. In ' 86 it was knock-down. Kurt Rambis clotheslined. We beat them.
There was great respect. I used to have this phrase all the time that you need to go out and play them tonight by showing them no respect but showing them great respect. There was really a dislike there and to this day it still sort of hangs around even when I see Larry and Danny (Ainge). Unless something happens in the Cleveland-Golden State series it's just going to be a game."
On what Cleveland has to do now trailing 2-0:
"They got to win four out of five. Now people say that's impossible, but you can go back in the history of the NBA, just with us. In 2006 when we won the title with Shaquille (O'Neal) we lost the first two games in Dallas badly, we won four in a row. (Kevin Durant) beat us in OKC in the first game (in 2012), we won four in a row. Things can happen. I wasn't very good at this but I would try to get them to forget bad games very quickly. So my advice would be forget the quick trip to the Bay Area, it's over. It wasn't a nightmare it was an experience and when you get home you just need to win two games and things can change quickly."
On comparing Magic to LeBron James:
"LeBron is the closest thing to Earvin we have ever seen because of his size, his speed, his acceleration, his vision, everything that he can do. (Magic) could have scored 30 points a game if he wanted to. He didn't have to score because of Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) and James (Worthy) and everybody else we had.
But he is a winner, Le- Bron is a winner. The way that LeBron plays the game now, coast-to-coast, handles the ball, runs the offense, it's just like Earvin. ... Same mold, same DNA."
On why Magic would defeat LeBron 1-on-1:
"Because (LeBron) would never call a foul and LeBron would respect him as an elder he'd win."
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