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The Sports Report: Magic never heard the phrase ‘Loose lips sink ships’

EL SEGUNDO, SEPTEMBER 20, 2018-Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka, left, and President of Basketball
Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson in September.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Hello everyone. My name is Houston Mitchell and I think we found the perfect idea for a “Game of Thrones” sequel: The Lakers front office.

Lakers

The notoriously reclusive and camera-shy Magic Johnson spoke out Monday, clarifying for the three or four people who couldn’t figure out who he was blaming when he resigned in April: Rob Pelinka.

Magic quotes included:

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“So, that’s who I was talking about when I said backstabber. Just you got to be a stand-up guy, a stand-up person,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. “If you got a problem with me or something I’m doing, just come and tell me. So, to get messages around the Lakers organization from different people within the Lakers organization, getting calls from people around the league saying this is what [Pelinka] is saying to people, ‘I’m not working hard. I’m never there [in the office].’ I couldn’t stand for that. …

“So, yes, everything was true what I said about Rob, ‘cause I’m only going to tell the truth. That’s who I am always going to be is a person who will be up front.”

“All of us as Lakers fans got to do one thing: We got to support Frank Vogel as the coach. And Rob is in that position, we got to support him — until otherwise. I’m not saying, ‘Oh, fire him,’ because of what happened. No, I’m not saying that. What I am saying is, this is what happened and now let’s make sure going forward these things don’t continue to happen anymore. That’s the bottom line.”

“Again, I’m about everything being right with the Lakers. I’m never going to do anything wrong or go against the Lakers or go against Jeanie [Buss]. Even right now, I’m not going against Rob, but I’m going to tell the truth. But I’m not against him. I talked to Rob on Saturday. Write that. When he calls in a day or two, I’m still going to talk to him. That’s who I am. I talked to Jeanie last week right before they went to Chicago. I’m going to always talk to the Lakers. Listen, I’m a Laker for life. That’s who I am and I want us to win.”

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Magic also talked about Joey Buss, who runs the Lakers’ G-League South Bay Lakers team; Jesse Buss, the Lakers’ assistant general and director of scouting; president of business operations Tim Harris; director of special projects Linda Rambis; and senior advisor Kurt Rambis.

“Tim Harris, you got to run the business. I’m sorry, but you can think you know basketball, but you really don’t, so you have to stay in that lane,” Johnson said. “Jesse, continue to be assistant general manager and a scout, but you are doing a great job as a scout, so continue to do that. Joey, run the G-League, the South Bay Lakers — on and on and on. So whatever role Kurt has, that’s his role. Whatever role Linda has, that’s her role.

“Define roles and then everybody got to stay in that lane. Because what’s happening is there are too many opinions, too many voices and everybody thinks their way is the right way. That’s why you can’t make good decisions because you got six, eight voices and everybody thinks their strategy is the right one. You can’t have that.”

“I’m a Laker for life. I’m going to always love Jeanie, and even Rob. Hey, you did these things, but if you ever need help, I’m going to be there to help because I want the Lakers to be successful. I still talk to Rob now. I love the Lakers. I love Jeanie. That’s never going to change. With all this going down, this is my sister.”

Pelinka’s response: “These things are surprising to hear and disheartening. But I look forward to the opportunity to talk with him and sit down with him and work through them ... because they’re just simply not true. I stand beside him, I stand with him as a colleague, as a partner. I’ve always supported everything he’s done and continue to and I think that’s the best way to address that.”

On one hand, I admire Magic for saying what’s on his mind, and on the other, it just became a lot harder to lure free agents to this team. Who would want to walk into this mess? You’ve got Magic, one of the most respected players in NBA history, telling everyone that the guy in charge of the front office can’t be trusted. How would you feel sitting down and negotiating with a guy who was described as a backstabber? Or signing with a team that can’t seem to make a decision without paralysis by analysis?

The offseason just got a lot more interesting.

Read our coverage of Monday’s craziness:

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Bill Plaschke: Magic Johnson makes Lakers situation messier by citing Rob Pelinka’s ‘betrayal’

Why Magic Johnson went on national TV to discuss Rob Pelinka’s ‘backstabbing’

Rob Pelinka on Magic Johnson’s comments: ‘They’re simply not true’

Dylan Hernandez: Frank Vogel shows ability to ‘roll with the punches’ during Lakers intro….

Magic Johnson: I felt betrayed by Rob Pelinka and lacked power with Lakers

Sports movies

Almost 27 years after its release, “A League of Their Own” remains a popular movie and it was recently voted the third greatest sports movie of all time in a survey of Times readers. Geena Davis, who starred in the film, would love to see a sequel.

“Oh God, a sequel?” Davis said at the annual Bentonville Film Festival in Bentonville, Ark., last week. “Because I love the characters. … And so, yes, I would love to see a sequel.

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“I have just as many girls and young women tell me they play sports specifically because of that movie, as when it came out originally. And it’s not just they want to play baseball, you know? Abby Wambach told me that she plays soccer because of that movie. So it’s fun to be in a movie like that.”

But would a sequel be possible? I reached out to Kelly Candaele, who produced the documentary “A League of Their Own” about his mom’s years in the All American Girls Professional Baseball League and received a “story by” credit for the Geena Davis movie, to get his opinion. He answered some questions via email.

Q: Geena Davis recently said she would love to take part in a sequel to “A League of Their Own.” What did you think when you first heard that?

Candaele: I think it’s fantastic. The film made $100 million, the highest grossing baseball movie in Hollywood history but it made almost no money overseas. I suspect the French and Chinese didn’t get the baseball jokes. I would tell the nervous studio executives we could put one of the Avengers in it with some baseball superpower. Can you imagine Thor with a baseball bat?

Q: Any ideas for a sequel? The same cast 25 years later or a completely recast film with the same characters and cameos from the original actors?

Candaele: I’ve actually written up a story that I think is pretty good. It’s set around 1990 so the impact of Title IX, which allowed women equal access to athletic opportunities, is taking hold. Through a series of events, Dottie ends up coaching a high school girls softball team — taking over from a nitwit male coach. She recruits three of her former teammates – including Kit — to help her out. It’s really a story about how older women teach younger women about life lessons during some difficult social changes. Of course the title is “There’s No Crying in Baseball.”

Q: “A League of Their Own” was recently voted the third greatest sports film of all time by Times readers. What was your reaction to that?

Candaele: It’s really an enduring film that I’m so proud of. I meet young girls all the time who have been inspired to do something in their life that they didn’t think they could do because of that film. Parents love it too, even though there are moments of “adult humor,” which by today’s standards is tame I guess. Mother’s Day just passed and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and how proud I was of her accomplishments.

Q: Penny Marshall, who directed the movie, passed away recently. Do you have a good Penny Marshall story to share?

Candaele: After my documentary aired on PBS, Penny called and invited me to her birthday party in the Hollywood Hills. I stood in her back yard and watched Hollywood royalty walk in and stand around by her pool in the backyard. Demi Moore, Bruce Willis, Robert De NiroJohn Kerry, who was a United States Senator at the time, dropped by. Nobody jumped in the pool naked. I stood with screenwriter Lowell Ganz and talked baseball because if you bother the stars you don’t get invited back. Besides, what would I say to Robert De Niro - “I liked you in Taxi Driver?”

Q: There is a lot of debate among fans of “A League of Their Own” as to whether Davis’ character, Dottie Hinson, dropped the ball on purpose at the end of the film. What are your thoughts?

Candaele: My mother (Helen Callaghan Candaele) would never have dropped the ball on purpose for anyone, and particularly not for her sister. She would have seen it as ethically bankrupt and a complete betrayal of her own teammates. And “letting your sister win,” is also a way of still having power over your younger sister. If you think about this for half a second you realize what bad faith there would be in dropping a ball on purpose – especially in the last game of the championship series. I think Penny left this ambiguous in the movie but it was never ambiguous in our family – a family of jocks who knew what team loyalty meant.

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)

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

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

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

*Monday, May 27, 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

Tonight, 5 p.m., San Jose at St. Louis, NBCSN

*Thursday, 6 p.m., St. Louis at San Jose, NBCSN

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

*if necessary

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Odds and ends

Another horse dies at Santa Anita, the 25th since late December…. Chargers’ Joey Bosa still isn’t sure if he appeared on ‘Game of Thrones'… Female hockey players form association with aim of creating a league…. Niki Lauda, three-time Formula One world champion, dies at 70…. Rape trial begins for former NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr…. Angels, Twins face off in second game of three-game series.

Today’s local major sports schedule

(All times Pacific)

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

Minnesota at Angels, 7 p.m., FSW, KLAA 830

Born on this date

1912: Baseball player Monty Stratton

1923: College football coach Ara Parseghian

1924: NBA player Jack Twyman

1960: Baseball player Kent Hrbek

1977: Football player Ricky Williams

1981: Baseball player Josh Hamilton

And finally

Josh Hamilton goes five for five with four home runs. 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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