Another fine day for the Lakers, and then a win over Suns

Dan Woike, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Basketball

LOS ANGELES--The rookies on the court are expected to make mistakes. It happened plenty in the Los Angeles Lakers' 112-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

But the people in the suits? More has to be expected.

For the third time since the Lakers' front office was detonated and rebuilt with Magic Johnson as president of basketball operations and Rob Pelinka as the general manager, the team was reprimanded by the league for violating the NBA's anti-tampering rules.

Tuesday, the Lakers were fined $50,000 for comments Magic Johnson made to ESPN about Milwaukee forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. In an interview, Johnson said the comparisons between his game and Antetokounmpo were more than fair.

"Oh yeah," he told ESPN. "With his ball-handling skills and his passing ability ... . He plays above the rim. I never could do that. But in his understanding of the game, his basketball IQ, his creativity of shots for his teammates, that's where we (have the) same thing. Can bring it down, make a pass, make a play. I'm just happy he's starting in the All-Star game because he deserves that. And he's going to be like an MVP, a champion, this dude he's going to put Milwaukee on the map. And I think he's going to bring them a championship one day."

The Bucks even shared the quote on the team's Instagram account.

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The Lakers had no comment on the fine.

While this isn't "tampering" in the same way it was when Pelinka and Paul George's agent, Aaron Mintz, had an improper conversation that cost the team a $500,000 fine, Johnson's comments to ESPN break a simple rule team executives have to adhere to -- don't speak publicly about players under contract with other teams.

It's not the first time Johnson has had problems with things he's said.

The NBA warned him about tampering violations after appearing on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" last April.


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