April 29, 2011
As such, we've all plunged headfirst into the time-honored tradition of which long shots should step up and buy the team.
Mark Cuban's name gets its required-by-law mention (even though he says he's done bidding on baseball teams). Someone urges Jay-Z to buy the team and move it back to Brooklyn. A Dodgers-obsessed developer in Southern California hatches a plan for public ownership of the team, like the Green Bay Packers up in Wisconsin.
Then there's suggestion that seems realistic enough to get excited about. Magic Johnson's name has been mentioned as a future Chavez Ravine overlord, enough that he felt compelled to address the speculation on a satellite radio show on Thursday.
In short, Magic is willing to listen if an opportunity to buy the team arises.
"You know, people here in LA want me to make a run for the Dodgers. I will sit back and see what happens and if somebody approaches me and wants a partner or wants me to be involved, I'll take a look at it. 'Cause I love baseball and I love the Dodgers."
So could it happen? Money certainly shouldn't be a problem. In January 2010, Forbes estimated Magic's personal worth — built through commercial real estate, movie theaters and restaurants — to be around $500 million. The magazine said that was good enough to place him No. 5 on its list of America's wealthiest African-Americans.
Since retiring from basketball, Magic has proven to be a smart and savvy businessman, and recent indicators have shown he could be building up cash for a run at a substantial ownership position within the sports world. In October 2010, he sold his 4.5 percent stake in the Los Angeles Lakers and 105 Starbucks franchises for a combined total that the Los Angeles Times pegged at over $100 million. That would be more than enough to take a run at buying the Dodgers, though he might want to check with an accountant before committing to a franchise that is carrying such a heavy debt load ($433 million!).
But let's say Magic and his rich friends run the numbers and figure it's a worthwhile pursuit for their ownership group. Think that's something Bud Selig and his friends would be interested in? Magic Johnson would be the first African-American owner in baseball history and would infuse immediate excitement into a fanbase that has been wilting under the drama of the McCourt divorce.
Are there more details to be ironed out before we start the parade in Echo Canyon? Well, sure. For one, Frank McCourt will have to decide to put the team up for sale, something he has yet to do. And we'd have to see if he put the right baseball people in charge of an unfamiliar enterprise.
But given Magic's open-minded comments, the possibility of him becoming the face of a reborn Dodgers franchise is too delicious to not chew over for at least a little bit.