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The Sports Report: Hey Magic Johnson, who’s the backstabber now?

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Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss
(Allen Berezovsky / Getty Images)

Hello everyone. My name is Houston Mitchell and let’s get right to the news.

Lakers

Bill Plaschke checks in with more on the Magic Johnson situation:

“A common theme was repeated by devastated Lakers insiders Monday in the wake of Magic Johnson’s franchise-leveling rant on national television.

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“Who’s the backstabber now?”

“The rhetorical question struck to the heart of a truth that must be addressed if the Lakers have any chance at fixing their busted front office.

“Magic Johnson could be part of the solution, but he continues to be part of the problem.

“Johnson professes his love for the franchise, yet acts in ways that demoralize it.

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“Johnson could be their best ambassador, yet he has become their most visible critic, and this summer that could seriously affect their ability to attract free agents.

“The Greatest Laker has become The Grating Laker, adding to the dysfunction that he’s attempting to reveal.

“Make no mistake, Johnson’s words have value, his viewpoint is important, he’s telling his truth, and Lakers fans should listen. Yes, Jeanie Buss has lost control of the room. Yes, Rob Pelinka is not a respected leader. Yes, the team is being guided by too many voices with too few credentials.

“Johnson is an incredibly credible witness. But he’s no hero here. Where and how he’s choosing to testify doesn’t make him noble, it makes him selfish.

“That’s who I’m always going to be, is a person who will be up front,” Johnson told The TimesBroderick Turner this week.

“But there is a difference between up front and out front. Twice in the last six weeks, Johnson has submarined the Lakers by being out front without being up front.

“Remember, it was Johnson who first exposed the Lakers’ front-office feud by firing the first public shot when he resigned from his president’s gig while standing in a Staples Center hallway before the final game of the season.

“He constantly says he considers Buss his sister, but would you quit your sister’s team without telling her?

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“Then, of course, it was Johnson who pulled back the curtain on the Lakers’ leadership wreckage Monday morning just hours before the Lakers were scheduled to begin patching some holes by formally introducing Frank Vogel as their new coach.

“Coincidental timing? Not a chance. While Johnson’s “First Take” television appearance had been scheduled a couple of weeks in advance, the Lakers news conference had been on the books for a week, so Johnson could have rearranged his calendar to fire his shots at a different time. It’s hard to imagine a TV sports talk show that wouldn’t change its schedule to accommodate him.

“In both cases, Johnson deftly picked the time when the spotlight would shine brightly on him while casting a deep shadow on the Lakers. It was as if he wasn’t satisfied with exposing a bad situation, he wanted to make it worse. He felt wronged by Pelinka, and he was going to make the entire organization pay.

“That sort of vindictive and vengeful attitude is unbecoming of a man universally beloved for his generosity and joy. The smirk is ill-fitting on a face known for its smile. He is not only damaging the Lakers’ legacy, he also could be tarnishing his own.”

UCLA

Some bad news was learned on Tuesday: Legendary Bruins football coach Terry Donahue is battling cancer. He recently underwent surgery for an undisclosed form of cancer and will begin chemotherapy after his recovery, the school announced.

Donahue, 74, guided the Bruins to a 151-74-8 record and five Pac-10 championships in his 20 years as head coach, taking his teams to 13 bowl games and winning three of his four appearances in the Rose Bowl. UCLA finished ranked in the top 20 nationally 12 times under Donahue, including five top-10 finishes. Donahue’s 98 conference wins are still the most in conference history. He was inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame in 1997 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

Donahue’s family said through the school that it appreciates all of the well wishes but “requests privacy at this time.”

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Dodgers

Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias was reinstated by Major League Baseball and rejoined the club Tuesday, a little over a week after he was arrested on suspicion of domestic battery in Los Angeles. It is the first time MLB reinstated a player on seven-day paid administrative leave without extending the leave or issuing a suspension since the league implemented its domestic violence policy in 2015.

The commissioner’s office couldn’t establish enough evidence to extend the leave with consent from the Major League Baseball Players Assn., which could have filed a grievance on Urias’ behalf had it deemed the evidence insufficient. A surveillance video exists, but MLB was unable to obtain the footage, according to a Beverly Center spokesperson and people familiar with the MLB probe.

“As a matter of policy, we do not release surveillance footage to any party other than law enforcement when it is formally requested in writing as part of an investigation, or when we receive a subpoena through the court system,” said Mary Mainville, spokesperson for the Beverly Center, in an email. “We did inform MLB of this policy when they contacted us directly after the May 13 incident. To date, law enforcement has not requested the footage, nor have we received a subpoena from MLB. We are fully prepared to comply with releasing the footage in accordance with our policy.”

A person with knowledge of the situation said the Beverly Center voluntarily provided authorities with the video and it has been viewed by prosecutors in the L.A. City Attorney’s office.

“We’re in contact with the major leagues and I’m open 100% with them,” Urias said in Spanish before Tuesday’s game. “They’re in charge of everything. Now that stays outside. Leaving the stadium you can think about that. But now I’m in a baseball stadium and I care about doing my job and helping this team. This team is ready to win, to get to another World Series and win a championship.”

Urias did not pitch in Tuesday’s 7-3 win over Tampa Bay and is not expected to pitch today either, but could be used this weekend against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

NBA playoffs

Western Conference Finals

All times Pacific

at Golden State 116, Portland 94

at Golden State 114, Portland 111

Golden State 110, at Portland 99

Golden State 119, at Portland 117 (OT)

Eastern Conference Finals

All times Pacific

at Milwaukee 108, Toronto 100

at Milwaukee 125, Toronto 103

at Toronto 112, Milwaukee 108 (2 OT)

at Toronto 120, Milwaukee 102

Thursday, 5:30 p.m., Toronto at Milwaukee, TNT

Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Milwaukee at Toronto, TNT

*Monday, 5:30 p.m., Toronto at Milwaukee, TNT

*-if necessary

NHL playoffs

Western Conference Finals

All times Pacific

at San Jose 6, St. Louis 3

St. Louis 4, at San Jose 2

San Jose 5, at St. Louis 4 (OT)

at St. Louis 2, San Jose 1

St. Louis 5, at San Jose 0

at St. Louis 5, San Jose 1

Eastern Conference Finals

All times Pacific

at Boston 5, Carolina 2

at Boston 6, Carolina 2

Boston 2, at Carolina 1

Boston 4, at Carolina 0

Stanley Cup Finals

All times Pacific

Monday, 5 p.m., St. Louis at Boston, NBC

Wed., May 28, 5 p.m., St. Louis at Boston, NBC

Sat., June 1, 5 p.m., Boston at St. Louis, NBCSN

Mon., June 3, 5 p.m., Boston at St. Louis, NBC

*Thur., June 6, 5 p.m., St. Louis at Boston, NBC

*Sun., June 9, 5 p.m., Boston at St. Louis, NBC

*Wed. June 12, 5 p.m., St. Louis at Boston, NBC

*-if necessary

Sports Podcast

The Lakers held a news conference Monday to introduce new coach Frank Vogel. But by the time the event took place at the UCLA Health Training Center, people were more focused on comments made by former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson, who said on national TV that he felt general manager Rob Pelinka had betrayed him and that the large number of people who had Jeanie Buss’ ear eroded his power within the team.

So the news conference came at a significant time for the franchise — and “Arrive Early, Leave Late” was there. This week’s podcast features clips from Pelinka’s and Vogel’s comments during the news conference, as well as analysis from all angles by the reporters and columnists who covered the event — Bill Plaschke, Tania Ganguli, Dylan Hernandez and Arash Markazi.

Click here to listen.

Other newsletters

We also have five other newsletters you can subscribe to for free. They are emailed to you and we don’t sell your name to other companies, so no spam from us. They are:

Our Dodgers newsletter, written by me. Subscribe here.

Lakers newsletter, written by Tania Ganguli. Subscribe here.

Horse racing newsletter, written by John Cherwa. Subscribe here.

Boxing/MMA newsletter, written by Lance Pugmire. Subscribe here.

Soccer newsletter, written by Kevin Baxter. Subscribe here.

Odds and ends

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons moved to injured list with severe ankle sprain…. Jack Jablonski is achieving his goals through optimism and sheer determination…. Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet selected to All-Rookie team…. Ndamukong Suh is expected to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers…. Dangers of weight cutting could come into focus soon…. Soccer! La Masia is still producing quality players…. Logan Loya goes from one powerful offense to another with move to St. John Bosco… Angels take on Twins in second game of three-game set.

Today’s local major sports schedule

(All times Pacific)

Dodgers at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, AM 570

Minnesota at Angels, 6 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

Born on this date

1902: Baseball player Al Simmons

1943: Baseball player Tommy John

1946: Soccer player George Best

1976: Cyclist Christian Vande Velde

1982: Speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno

1987: Tennis player Novak Djokovic

Died on this date

1975: Baseball player Lefty Grove

1990: Boxer Rocky Graziano

2015: NBA player/Harlem Globetrotter Marques Haynes

2017: Motorcycle racer Nicky Hayden

2018: Former Angels manager Dave Garcia

And finally

George Best’s best 20 goals of all time. Watch them here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email us here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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