Where were you when you found out Magic Johnson would become part-owner of the Dodgers?
"I was going to bed," Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier said Wednesday. "I got a couple texts, looked at it, turned over, went back to sleep."
"I was watching 'The Hunger Games,' " said pitcher Clayton Kershaw. "He interrupted my movie."
Appropriately, Matt Kemp was at an NBA game in Phoenix, where the Suns were playing the San Antonio Spurs.
"I thought everyone was playing around until I got a text message from some important people," Kemp said.
Maybe Tuesday will be remembered as a seminal moment in each of their lives -- the day the Dodgers' fortunes turned on the expected sale of the team from Frank McCourt to the Guggenheim Baseball Management group, fronted by Johnson and Stan Kasten.
Players trickled in to the clubhouse, worked out, met with coaches and headed out to the Camelback Ranch fields to practice. Some played in that afternoon's game against the San Francisco Giants.
Pitcher Ted Lilly didn't even know the Guggenheim group had been selected until he was informed by reporters.
But for a few Dodgers players, this was something special. Infielder Adam Kennedy grew up in Riverside and attended Lakers games at the Forum during Johnson's heyday.
"I can't really describe it, how big it is and what he means to the community of L.A. and the sports world especially," Kennedy said. "It
was a great job putting the team in Magic's hands."
Outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., in his own words, was "probably more pumped than anybody in the room" when he heard the news Tuesday.
He remembered crying during Johnson's seminal press conference on Nov. 7, 1991, when Johnson announced he had HIV and retired from the Lakers. Gwynn remembered a Lakers exhibition game in San Diego during which Johnson identified and pointed to Gwynn's father, then-Padres star Tony Gwynn, sitting in the stands.
"Magic was a big deal in our household," he said.
Several veteran players who endured questions about the recent off-the-field turmoil under McCourt were relieved that those questions would now end.
Most players also deflected questions about the team's future payroll, and whether the change in ownership would allow the Dodgers to acquire more talent as the season goes along.
The change in regime could have an immediate effect on Ethier, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Negotiating an extension was difficult without management having some idea of a payroll beyond this season. That should not be a concern soon after the sale is completed by the April 30 deadline.
"I'm open to anything," Ethier said about re-opening contract talks, "but at this time it's just focus on the year, get this done."
He, more than anyone, should know how much the uncertainty over control of the team affected the players.
"Maybe it's been a distraction, maybe it hasn't," Ethier said, "but we're not going to use it as an excuse."
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