Dodger Stadium has always been a popular destination for celebrities to watch a game, get showered with cheers, and distract fans as they try and point out to their friend where Kobe is sitting … from the outfield bleachers.
In 2013 the stars came out in force. On top of a laundry list of big names we saw: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Cristiano Rinaldo, Danny DeVito, Flea, Eric Stonestreet, Larry King and Magic Johnson.
Oh, wait. What's that you're saying?
Magic Johnson is part-owner of the Dodgers, and was marketed as the "face" of the Guggenheim ownership group? Shouldn't he maybe show up to games once in a while?
Excuse the sarcasm, but Johnson's absence at Dodger Stadium was one of the constant fan gripes throughout the season. Well, that might not be a problem anymore, as Johnson is leaving his post at ESPN.
The sports network announced on Thursday that Johnson would not be returning to his role on "NBA Countdown" where he spent several seasons as an analyst. He was especially involved with the show for the 2012-2013 season.
He said in a statement on Thursday: "I don’t feel confident that I can continue to devote the time needed to thrive in my role." His decision comes a mere 11 days before the start of the NBA season.
While he did not state specifically what he would do with all the time he will save from leaving his ESPN gig, Dodgers fans hope he will be more active with the organization.
"NBA Countdown" did not run through most of the summer, but Johnson still was not at the stadium because he went on a lengthy Italian vacation. This irked some fans, but do we really need to complain about what a basketball legend/millionaire is doing on his summer vacation?
Overall it is an interesting move, and hopefully it ends up leading to the "face" of the Dodgers ownership spending more time at the stadium. Maybe he will join Tommy Lasorda, who spends every game in the owner's box, a few steps away from the field and the Dodger dugout.
During this postseason, Johnson has been at most of the games, traveled with the team to Atlanta, and was on the field to celebrate when the Dodgers beat the Braves to advance to the NLCS. Following the announcement you can probably expect him to be with the squad on Friday for the NLCS opener in St. Louis.
I do not expect him to be at every game, but it should be often enough that he is treated less as a celebrity guest, and more like another member of the team.