Lakers fined $50,000 for Magic Johnson tampering with Giannis Antetokounmpo
The NBA fined the Lakers a record $500,000 last summer for tampering with Paul George (then of the Pacers, now with the Thunder).
The Lakers apparently haven’t learned their lesson.
Lakers president Magic Johnson has since tampered with Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league ruled.Nick Friedell of ESPN:
As Johnson watches from afar, he can’t help but see and enjoy the parallels between his game and that of the Bucks big man.
“Oh yeah,” Johnson told ESPN recently. “With his ball-handling skills and his passing ability. He plays above the rim I never could do that. But in his understanding of the game, his basketball IQ, his creativity of shots for his teammates. That’s where we [have the] same thing. Can bring it down, make a pass, make a play. I’m just happy he’s starting in the All-Star game because he deserves that. And he’s going to be like an MVP, a champion, this dude he’s going to put Milwaukee on the map. And I think he’s going to bring them a championship one day.”
The NBA’s tampering rules remain arbitrarily applied. Maybe team executives aren’t permitted to talk at all publicly about opposing players, but that’d be a major shift in enforcement
Johnson specifically said Antetokounmpo would win a championship in Milwaukee. The NBA is promoting the interview on its own website!
If this is tampering, any time Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal praises a non-Sacramento player during a TV appearance is tampering. So is president-coaches – Spurs’ Gregg Popovich, Pistons’ Stan Van Gundy and Timberwolves’ Tom Thibodeau – praising an opposing player before or after a game.
Does the league really want to open that can of worms? More likely, the NBA is just trying to make an example of Johnson.
This is the Lakers’ third tampering fine involving Johnson. The George fine was due directly to general manager Rob Pelinka’s communication with George’s agent, but the league noted that followed a warning to Johnson for literally winking at George during a TV interview. The Lakers were also fined a couple years ago for Johnson – who then held a ceremonial front-office role – tweeting about the team pursuing LeBron James, Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan.
For what it’s worth, Antetokounmpo can’t hit free agency until 2021.
But the way things are going, the Lakers might not attract a star free agent until then, anyway.