The NBA hit the Los Angeles Lakers with a hefty fine Thursday afternoon. Lakers President Magic Johnson, and General Manager Rob Pelinka are both cited for violating the league’s Anti-Tampering Rule.
This all stems from an interview Magic Johnson had in April on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where Paul George was mentioned.
The tampering charges came about because of an angry Indiana Pacers team, who have since traded Paul George to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Two weeks ago, the Pacers formally filed a complaint, accusing the Lakers of tampering (negotiating with George while he’s still under contract with another team). George is an L.A. native and has long been connected to his hometown team. Although the Lakers were fined, the investigation didn’t provide evidence that the Lakers and George ever attempted to put any agreement in place.
On April 20th, Magic Johnson went on Jimmy Kimmel Live, where Kimmel asked if Johnson could talk to George if the two ran into each other on vacation. Kimmel wanted to know if Johnson could.
“We’re going to say ‘hi’ because we know each other. You just can’t say, ‘Hey, I want you come to the Lakers,’ even though I’m going to be wink-winking.” Johnson gave a big wink, and then joked “You know what that means, right?”
This is what set the small market Pacers off, this is what ruffled their feathers and Indiana corn, a joke on a comedic talk show. Magic Johnson is a larger than life celebrity who has been known to do and say the right thing. He is careful with his words, and unfortunately in today’s society, in today’s NBA, you can never be too careful. Johnson’s comments were made to get a laugh, and he received many for the joke on Kimmel’s show. That is the context to the words, but the NBA cares not about context or intent.
Magic Johnson is being punished for being Magic Johnson. If this was a lesser man on a small market radio station and said the same things, the NBA wouldn’t have cared, and another NBA team wouldn’t have filed tampering charges. The bigger the name, the more people go after you it seems.
Yes, there is the part of the statement that says George’s agent was contacted by General Manager Rob Pelinka, and interest was expressed. But even here, the Pacers filing a charge of tampering is silly. At this juncture, the Pacers were actively shopping George. The Lakers did absolutely nothing to hurt the return value the Pacers could and would ultimately receive for George.
"NBA fines Lakers 500K for tampering"
Lakers Fans: pic.twitter.com/m6vnV57aCN
— FEAR LA™ (@FEAR_LA) August 31, 2017
And not to be an apologist, but every general manager in the league reaches out to the agents of players. It’s a natural thing, they know each other well. If the NBA were always looking into tampering violations, the numbers of them would be in the hundreds.
What is disappointing is this… where the fine will go. Yesterday, the Lakers donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. A wonderful thing to do. Yet, a day later, the NBA gives this team a petty fine, for the most minor of infractions. It would have been nice, at the very least, for the NBA to ask the Lakers to give the fine money to help more victims of Hurricane Harvey, not just into the NBA’s revenue stream.
Paul George will be a free agent in 2018, and the Lakers will probably be the favorites to land him, but that will have nothing to do with these tampering charges. It is hard to justify giving a team a fine of any kind when in the press release it informs us they found no evidence of any agreement between George and the Lakers. Get it together, NBA.