Two longtime rivals help Boston sports years later

Two longtime rivals help Boston sports years later
August 27, 2012, 4:51 am
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Kevin McHale and Magic Johnson were rivals in the 1980s as members of the dueling Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. They faced off in 19 games during three NBA Finals, with the Celtics winning the NBA title in 1984 and the Lakers taking it all in 1985 and 1987.

McHale fought to deliver championship triumph to Boston while Johnson was determined to deprive the Celtics of that glory. The division was clear-cut and it seemed unlikely they would have much in common besides their intense desires to win (often at the others expense).

Nearly 30 years later they share a new bond. This time, as front office executives involved in blockbuster trades with major impacts on Boston sports teams.

In just his first season as co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Johnson was part of one of the biggest trades in baseball history. The Dodgers took on 271 million in salaries when they acquired Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Nick Punto this weekend in exchange for James Loney, Ivan DeJesus, Jr., Allen Webster, and two players to be named later.

"This is an exciting day. We did this for our fans. We feel, of course, we want to win now, Johnson said in a press conference, according to the Los Angeles Times (link to: http:www.latimes.comsportsbaseballmlbdodgersla-sp-dn-dodgers-trade-magic...), also adding, "We understand that you have to spend money to be good in this league, and we understood that before we bought the team."

The payoff for each team? The Dodgers increased their chances of winning now. The Red Sox dumped major contracts, opened up salary space, and began a rebuilding process during a tumultuous season.

Five years earlier, McHale was in the opposite position of Johnson. As the Minnesota Timberwolves Vice President of Basketball Operations, his team was struggling to achieve a winning record in spite of having one of the NBAs top stars on the roster. The Boston Celtics, like the Dodgers, were looking to win another title in the near future.

In July of 2007, McHale dealt Kevin Garnett to the Celtics and took on young players Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Sebastian Telfair, and veteran Theo Ratliff. The Timberwolves also received two 2009 first round draft picks (used to select Wayne Ellington and Jonny Flynn).

"This trade is about improving the Minnesota Timberwolves and improving our team for the future," McHale said in a team statement. "The past few seasons our on-court performance has been disappointing to our fans, myself, Glen Taylor and the entire organization. Through this trade, we have obtained very talented, young players with a lot of potential, future flexibility with the salary cap and two future first-round NBA draft picks. This will not be an overnight fix, but it is the big step in renewing our commitment to build an exciting franchise for our fans."

The payoff for each team? The Timberwolves acquired young talent and began a rebuilding process which has included the acquisitions of Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio. The Celtics added Garnett, formed The New Big Three with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, and won the 2008 NBA championship that season.

After battling on the parquet as foes in the 1980s, Johnson and McHale now share a unique commonality over 30 years later.