Indiana-native Don Mattingly has always been a Larry Bird fan, but he's ready to join Magic Johnson in the Dodgers' quest for a championship.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is more concerned about runs, hits and errors on the baseball field than who is in the front office, but he said Wednesday that it helps to have someone with Magic Johnson's competitive nature as the "driving force."
"Nothing really changes for us," Mattingly said before a spring training game against the Giants. "We still have to get ready to play. It's going to be about making pitches, executing plays, getting good pitches to hit -- doing the things that we do.
"This thing was kind of in limbo and up in the air. Now you know who the driving force is. From an athlete's standpoint, you get people who have been in the arena from the standpoint of competition. When you get down to it with guys who are competitive and who know how to compete at the highest level, they know what it's like. He's going to be able to relate to these guys."
Johson joined baseball exec Stan Kasten and Mark Walter, chief executive officer of Guggenehim Partners, to make a $2 billion offer for one of baseball's most storied franchises.
But for the Indiana native and long-time Larry Bird fan, any mention of Magic Johnson must include a reference to the Laker great's hardcourt rival.
"Really, what could be better," Mattingly said. "With Magic, Stan Kasten. I'm thinking, if we had (Larry) Bird in the group, now we'd be talking."
Mattingly grew up in Evansville, Ind. and occasionally likes to visit his hometown. Bird is from French Lick, Ind., about 90 miles southwest of Evansville. Bird attended Indiana State University, which lost to Johnson's Michigan State team in the 1979 college basketball championship game.
Mattingly, who nearly played baseball at Indiana State, was on Bird's side when he watched the two players' historic NBA clashes, but he's looking forward to helping the former Laker work his magic with the Dodgers.
"Magic's my nemesis, but now we're on the same team," he said. "We're coming to win a championship. We're not just coming to be competitive or make sure there's some entertainment in LA."