Tip of the Cap to Magic, Walter, Sparks
What is not to love about Wednesday’s news revealing Magic Johnson and his investment group as new owners of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks? NOTHING!
Let’s be fair … on a personal level, my first love is baseball, so I love the association with the Los Angeles Dodgers. They might not be my favorite team, but recent energy infused into that franchise by Magic’s entrance two years ago has clearly been noted in the baseball world. Johnson, along with Dodgers’ controlling owner Mark Walter and co-owners Todd Boehly, Robert Patton and Stan Kasten have revived the Dodgers’ presence in Major League Baseball. They have once again become a perennial contender in the National League, in addition to welcoming a stadium renovation that has helped beautify one of America’s most historic ballparks.
So I’m on board purely from the association with a baseball team! (By the way … spring training camps open for pitchers and catchers TODAY … in case anyone is interested!)
Back to the W …
What the change in ownership in L.A. means for the WNBA is both excitement and stability. Look, the league will begin its 18th season in 2014 which is longer than many skeptics ever imagined. That the former L.A. ownership group chose to depart from the WNBA was not necessarily a poor reflection on the league; but that the new ownership group includes a basketball icon and association with one of the most profitable and engaging franchises in all of professional team sports … that is powerful!
Magic Johnson has become iconic in the business world, as much as he built his hall of fame status on the basketball court with three NBA MVP awards and five NBA titles. The energy that he brings to the Sparks will be felt throughout our league, keeping one of the W’s own iconic franchises at the forefront of attention and notoriety, on the court and off.
As much as it may have been a shame for the previous ownership group to opt out of the WNBA, the addition of Johnson and the Dodgers’ ownership group will be a huge shot in the arm. Any critics who may still have questioned this league’s viability are apt to watch the WNBA thrive into its 20th season in two years; and likely its 25th and its 30th in decades to come.
The Sparks already are a top club, returning two-time MVP Candace Parker to its 2014 roster along with 2012 Rookie of the Year Nneka Ogwumike and 2012 Most Improved Player Kristi Toliver. It was the Sparks who tipped off the first game in league history, in 1997, by hosting the New York Liberty. STAPLES Center will grow as a summer destination point, just down the road from the Sparks’ new family, the Dodgers, in Chavez Ravine.
Congrats to L.A. and the WNBA! And welcome to Magic and the Dodgers! I can’t wait for summer!