They were two of the most famous faces in the Los Angeles Lakers’ “Showtime” era, and now almost 30 years later, Magic Johnson and Pat Riley are running teams as executives.
And Riley, who coached Johnson on four of the Lakers’ five NBA championship teams in the ’80s, thinks he can still pull rank over his former star player if Magic ever calls the Miami Heat honcho to talk trades.
“It depends on who calls who,” Riley said alongside Johnson at an American Express corporate event Tuesday. “If I called him first, then he ain’t gonna say anything. And if he calls me first, I’m going to say, ‘I know that I can make your team better. Let’s have a conversation. Let’s do this, forget about the cap ramifications and start talking about player personnel’ … and before you know it, I get a treasure of players.”
What will happen when Magic Johnson and Pat Riley eventually get on a trade call? pic.twitter.com/Fmrq24EDvq
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) June 6, 2017
The room broke out in laughter.
Riley, 72, also warned Johnson – who was officially hired as the Lakers’ president this spring – about the pitfalls of moving into an executive role.
“When I went from coaching to the front office, my first three months I was actually in fits, because I had lost control. You lose control of the team and the game, because you’re just selecting players,” Riley said. “And one thing you don’t want to do as president is second-guess your coach too much, go down to the locker room, don’t hang around too much.”
Riley, who’s been the Heat’s president since 1995, also teased Johnson about the Lakers’ expected selection of Lonzo Ball in the upcoming draft.
“And so (Magic) was the all-time leader of all leaders on the Lakers, so he will sit up there in that box of his, and when things aren’t going good (at) first, he’s going to want to go down there and be Lonzo Ball’s mentor.”