Bucks’ Former Owner Says He’s ‘Shocked’ by Clippers’ Suit Over the Johnson Trade

Jim Fitzgerald, the former owner of the Milwaukee Bucks who negotiated last September’s six-player trade with the Clippers, said Monday that he was “totally shocked” that the Clippers would try to nullify the trade because the Bucks allegedly withheld information about Johnson’s stay in a drug rehabilitation center.

Speaking by phone from his home in Janesville, Wis., Fitzgerald said: “I can’t help but feel that this whole thing relates to their move from San Diego to Los Angeles. Their object in this suit isn’t to undo a trade or get compensation. I think it has to do with building their case in the league’s suit against them for moving.

“I’m sick and tired of all these legal maneuvers by the Clippers. I’m more used to working within the framework of the NBA constitution. The Clippers don’t. I don’t know why we have to mess around with the courts and the league arbitration. Why don’t we just get a lie detector and decide it right there.”

Fitzgerald maintains that the Clippers should have known about Johnson’s hospitalization at a rehabilitation center in July of 1983.


“Alan Rothenberg and Carl Scheer have been recognized for 10 or 15 years as two of the sharpest guys in the league,” Fitzgerald said. “For them to take a position that they didn’t know about Johnson is ridiculous.”

Fitzgerald sold the Bucks in March to Herb Kohl, a Milwaukee businessman.