Hall of Fame point guard Magic Johnson is facing the immense challenge of his basketball career attempting to rebuild the once-proud but now crumbling Los Angeles Lakers franchise.
As Johnson tries to turn the fortunes of his old team around in his new role as director of basketball operations, he should look at the Spurs as an obvious building model.
Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com compared and contrasted the two rival franchises, saying that the Spurs "epitomize managerial stability, togetherness and focus" while the Lakers have been "a rudderless ship" for many years.
Holmes suggest that Johnson consider the Spurs as an "ideal example that market size matters less and less" in the modern NBA.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took to the bully pulpit over the weekend in Los Angeles to tell reporters that his team's front-office consistency has been critical in how he and R.C. Buford have set the tone of the franchise.
"I've always thought it starts with ownership," Popovich said in a nod to the team's majority owner Peter Holt. "I think owners who let their people do their jobs end up being more successful in our business."
Popovich said that element has been the critical component in allowing his team to thrive throughout his coaching career.
"Ownership has allowed us to just run the program and keep them informed as we should," he said. "After that piece of the puzzle is in place, then it becomes a synergy between management, coaches and players.
"It's about people. It's about people that have hopefully gotten over themselves, that are comfortable in their own skins and know to maturely and objectively agree and disagree. That's totally dependent on people."
That philosophy is easier described by Popovich than implemented.
Because of the dysfunction that has reigned over the Lakers in recent seasons, Johnson was the obvious choice to try to change the culture of his franchise, winners of 16 NBA titles but one that hasn't won and NBA playoff series since 2012.
But as Popovich says, he'll need help from the ownership of the franchise, and a willingness to stay out of the way to see that transformation implemented.
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