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The Sports Report: This week on ‘As the Lakers Turn’

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 2019: Earvin Magic Johnson steps down as Lakers’ president
Magic Johnson
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

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

Lakers

America’s favorite soap opera is back for another installment. This week, J.R. (played by Rob Pelinka) forces Bobby (Magic Johnson) out of Ewing Oil while employees of Bobby says he is domineering. But is J.R. living in a fantasy world, saying he has dinner with people who died months before said dinner date? Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger (LeBron James) is in town and appears to be controlling everything behind the scenes while Miss Ellie (Jeanie Buss) seems powerless despite actually having all the power.

OK, perhaps I stretched the soap opera analogy to its breaking point.

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In real life, Baxter Holmes (who used to work for The Times and is an excellent reporter and writer) wrote this story for ESPN that you should click here to read.

Our own Bill Plaschke chimes in with the following:

“For most of the last two years, the question facing the NBA’s most glamorous franchise for the summer of 2019 was clear.

“Which superstar is going to sign with the Lakers?

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Yet, in recent months, as gaping cracks have appeared in the organization’s credibility, the question has dramatically changed.

Why would any superstar want to sign with the Lakers?

“Why, indeed, would anyone want to forge a lengthy business partnership in the prime of their career with a franchise owned by a confused Jeanie Buss, abandoned by a frustrated Magic Johnson, run by a domineering LeBron James, and operated under the heavy hand of a distrusted Rob Pelinka?

“Superstars want a championship culture. Not happening here.

“Superstars want a stable front office. Not even close.

“Superstars want distraction-free basketball. Not a chance.

“The Lakers’ internal problems have been exacerbated by the public nature of their various fusses and feuds. In an odd Hollywood twist, reality has become perception, and the idea that Lakerland has become a wasteland surely will haunt the team during the upcoming free-agent season.

“Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, well, it got worse, their problems accentuated with Tuesday’s publishing of an ESPN story by Baxter Holmes that represents another deep dive into their franchise dysfunction.

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“Nothing in the story was surprising. The Lakers mess has been well documented both on these pages and throughout the national media landscape.

“But the piece does contain several new anecdotes in which their chaos is startlingly reinforced. It is these sorts of nuggets that will be used against them by opponents during the recruiting of superstars. These little stories will be tossed on a big pile that eventually could smother the Lakers’ future hopes.

“If you’re cringing while reading this stuff, how do you think the likes of Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving are reacting?

“For example, we all knew Pelinka engendered trust issues, but the ESPN story cites a supposedly inspirational story he told the team that could not possibly be true.

“During a team meeting featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in March 2018 — an event captured on a video uploaded to YouTubePelinka regaled his players with the story of a meeting between his former client Kobe Bryant and actor Heath Ledger.

“There was one time when Kobe, who I worked with for 18 years, was going back to play in Madison Square Garden, and he had just seen, ‘The Dark Knight,’’’ Pelinka said. “Obviously, you guys saw that movie, and he’s like, ‘Hey, hook me up with dinner with Heath Ledger, because he got so locked into that role. I want to know how he mentally went there.’ So he had dinner with Heath and he talked about how he locks in for a role. And Kobe used some of that in his game against the Knicks.’’

“There was one problem with the anecdote — “The Dark Knight’’ wasn’t released until six months after Ledger died.”

Dodgers

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The Dodgers gave Joe Kelly three years and $25 million in the offseason and in return he has given them headaches. But their may be underlying personal reasons. Kelly spent a few days recently on the bereavement list, and manager Dave Roberts hints some personal things may be a distraction for him.

“It’s been a tough road for Joe to start the season,” Roberts said. “I don’t want to get too much into what’s going on personally for him, but I think there are things in peoples’ lives that sometimes affect performance. He’ll never make excuses, but I think if you look on the surface, it’s just execution.”

“When you’re getting behind, as he has been, and you’re making mistakes with the fastball, it doesn’t matter how hard you throw — guys these days can time a bullet,” Roberts said. “With Joe, we have to work on getting ahead in the count, as all pitchers should. Get strike one, then execute your pitches.”

Of course, it doesn’t help that some really clueless people on the Internet have been sending tweets hoping more people Kelly knows die so he can go on the bereavement list more often. Stay classy.

Kelly has had a rough season, but the Dodgers have 25 million reasons not to give up on him. Let’s hope he can successfully deal with off-the-field issues and get closer to becoming the pitcher the Dodgers thought they were signing.

Stanley Cup Final

All times Pacific

at Boston 4, St. Louis 2

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

Saturday, 5 p.m., Boston at St. Louis, NBCSN

Monday, 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

NBA Finals

All times Pacific

Thursday, Golden State at Toronto, 6 p.m., ABC

Sunday, Golden State at Toronto, 5 p.m., ABC

Wed., June 5, Toronto at Golden State, 6 p.m., ABC

Fri., June 7, Toronto at Golden State, 6 p.m., ABC

*Mon., June 10, Golden State at Toronto, 6 p.m., ABC

*Thur., June 13, Toronto at Golden State, 6 p.m., ABC

*Sun, June 16, Golden State at Toronto, 5 p.m., ABC

*-if necessary

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

Dodgers’ bullpen implodes in loss to the New York Mets…. PETA sides with Santa Anita on new horse racing safety rules…. Why food at Dodger Stadium isn’t as good as that at San Diego’s Petco Park…. Chargers counting on Travis Benjamin’s speed and ‘big-play potential’…. No word on when Rams might offer Marcus Peters a contract extension…. Top Angels prospect Jo Adell ecstatic to be healthy and playing again…. Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug fuel Bruins’ Stanley Cup hopes with size and tenacity…. Clippers, who will target Kawhi Leonard, feel their young guards are keepers…. James Smith’s patience at St. John Bosco pays off in scholarship offers…. Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz fight could be at Staples Center, with Anthony Joshua next…. Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns to Galaxy, but Jonathan dos Santos isn’t 100%…. Nick Tropeano and Shohei Ohtani deliver to lead Angels over the Athletics.

Today’s local major sports schedule

(All times Pacific)

New York Mets at Dodgers, 7 p.m., SportsNet LA, AM 570

Angels at Oakland, 12:30 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

Galaxy at Sporting Kansas City, 5:30 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet

Born on this date

1910: Sprinter Ralph Metcalfe

1913: Boxer Tony Zale

1938: Baseball commissioner Fay Vincent

1939: Race car driver Al Unser

1962: Baseball player Eric Davis

1976: Former Dodger Jerry Hairston Jr.

1984: NBA player Carmelo Anthony

Died on this date

1972: Baseball player and spy Moe Berg

And finally

Al Unser wins the 1985 Indy 500. Watch it 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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