Magic Johnson Reveals What Worried Him About LeBron James Talks

The Los Angeles Lakers president gives Jimmy Kimmel an inside look at how he signed the superstar.

Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson had a bit of a bone to pick when he appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Wednesday.

Make that a $500,000 bone.

That’s how much the Los Angeles Lakers were fined after Johnson’s previous appearance on the late-night show, when he mentioned the team’s interest in Paul George. Because George, who plays for the Oklahoma City Thunder, wasn’t a free agent, the NBA fined the Lakers.

Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, had the team pay the fine by withholding money from his paycheck. He laughingly said he had hoped Kimmel would have paid half.

So, when superstar LeBron James became a free agent this year, Johnson said he knew the NBA would strictly enforce its rules and he made extra sure to follow them to the letter. When free agency opened, talks could begin at 9:01 p.m. on June 30, Johnson said.

He said he pulled up in front of James’ house an hour ahead of time and sat in the car.

“I’m an on-time guy,” Johnson said. “I was just hoping that I didn’t have to go to the bathroom.”

As the time drew close, Johnson was ready.

“At 9 o’clock I inch to the gate, but I don’t ring the buzzer till 9:01,” Johnson told Kimmel. “Your half-million dollars ― I was thinking about that.”

On July 9, the Lakers announced that they had signed James as a free agent.

Check out the video above to hear what Magic Johnson prayed about when he was trying to sign LeBron James.



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