Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten and Mark Walter new LA Dodgers owners

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LA Dodger Stadium
Photo by Francois Palais/Francois Palais Photography for Diversity News Magazine
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On Wednesday, March 28, 2012 it was announced that the new Dodgers owners — primarily Magic Johnson, Stan Kasten and Mark Walter — are ready to roll.

“Stan will be president and CEO and my role will be what it’s been during the 30 years since I got to LA,” said Johnson, the biggest name in the group that will pay $2 billion to purchase the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium.

“I’ll be working with the city, making sure the fans enjoy themselves at the park,” Johnson said. “If the players need anything, my door is open to anything — not just baseball. They’ll get enough baseball from the manager, Don Mattingly, and I’m sure they can reach out to Stan too, and Mark, from the standpoint of selling the Dodgers brand and working with the sponsors. I’ll have an office there and I’ll be there every day.”

Johnson said he was enlisted by Kasten, their relationship dating to Johnson’s playing days with the Lakers when Kasten ran the Atlanta Hawks, along with the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Thrashers. Kasten also ran the Washington Nationals, and now he’ll be in charge of running the Dodgers. Walter will be the controlling partner.

“It’s beyond a dream come true for a guy who does what I do,” Kasten said. “The word that’s associated with Dodgers is ‘pride.’ There’s not any other franchise that has that history. Any opportunity to be associated with that franchise — I’ve been friends with Tom Lasorda and Vin Scully — and the thought of being co-workers with them is beyond belief.”

Kasten, who met with general manager Ned Colletti after touring the Dodgers’ Camelback Ranch Spring Training facility two weeks ago, said he has no immediate changes planned.
LA Dodger Stadium
“We’ll be coming in May 1, and I know a lot about an organization from the outside, but you can’t know everything and everybody until you get inside,” Kasten said. “I look forward to getting to know the people and helping them be more productive, and if we need more people or different people, we’ll do that.”

Walter, CEO of investment manager Guggenheim Partners, which is providing the primary funding for the purchase, was asked if there is any money left to acquire and pay players after the record-breaking purchase price for a North American sports franchise.

“There is,” Walter said. “I know Stan is an expert on this topic, as far as what should be done building a roster. My job is to help Stan and Magic accomplish all of our goals, and that’s not only on the field, but in the community and philanthropy.

“But winning is essential. When I met Magic the first time, we covered a lot of topics, but it was clear that if winning wasn’t the goal, there was no point in owning the franchise. We want to win. If that means we have to work harder on the business side to make that happen, we will.”

Other named partners in the Guggenheim Baseball Partnership LLC purchasing group are Peter Guber, Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly.

Guber is chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, which expanded its initial focus of movie production to include ownership of Minor League baseball teams and a stake in the Golden State Warriors NBA team.

Patton is an oil and gas investor and Boehly is president of Guggenheim Partners.

About Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr:
Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. (born August 14, 1959) is a retired American professionalbasketball player who played point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). After winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA Draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had contracted HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years, but returned in 1996, at age 36, to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the third and final time.

Johnson’s career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finalsappearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations. He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA’s all-time leader in average assists per game, at 11.2.[3] Johnson was a member of the “Dream Team“, the U.S. basketball team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1992.

Johnson was honored as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History in 1996, and enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002.[4] He was rated the greatest NBA point guard of all time by ESPN in 2007.[5] His friendship and rivalry with Boston Celtics starLarry Bird, whom he faced in the 1979 NCAA finals and three NBA championship series, were well documented. Since his retirement, Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDSprevention and safe sex,[4] as well as an entrepreneur,[6] philanthropist,[7] broadcaster andmotivational speaker.[8] Johnson was a part-owner of the Lakers for several years, and was part of a group that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.

Sources: Wikipedia, Ken Gurnick / MLB.com, http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com
Photos credit to: Francois Palais for Diversity News Magazine and  http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com

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