Celtics Trade First Round Draft Pick for Magic Johnson's Comic Books
"A Much Better Investment," says GM Danny Ainge by Jeff Briskin
BOSTON. The Boston Celtics have traded their 2019 NBA first round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for a collection of 4,000 vintage comic books owned by the Lakers' President of Basketball Operations Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
GM Danny Ainge arranged the trade with his former NBA playoff rival after deciding that the comic books would be a better investment for the team than any current draft prospects.
“Let’s face it—by the time it got to us all the high-value players would be gone and we’d be stuck with some 6’1” point guard who we’d end up cutting anyway,” said Ainge.
“But when Magic called to ask what I wanted for our pick, I knew that I wanted superheroes, not superstar-wannabes.”
A number of Celtics players were initially angry at Ainge’s decision to sacrifice the future of the championship contender for twenty boxes of comic books. But most changed their mind after they had a chance to look at the collection at Ainge’s Wellesley home.
“RJ Barrett or Nassir Little might help us out on offense, but I’ll take a mint condition 1963 Amazing Fantasy #15 over both of them anyday,” said Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, referring to the rare comic book that introduced Spider-Man to the world.
Center Al Horford agreed. “Sure, we’re gonna need help on three-pointers and rebounds if we have any hope of beating the Warriors in the NBA Finals. But how often do you get your hands on Action Comics #1 from 1938 where Superman made his debut, not to mention the first Fantastic Four from 1961?”
Ainge had known about Jonhson's comic book collection when they faced off against each other during their epic NBA Finals in the mid-1980s. “During the '86 Finals, Magic wouldn't stop trash-talking about the 1938 Batman debut comic book he said he picked up a yard sale in Brentwood. Years later, when we were both retired from playing, Magic invited me to his home in LA after an old-timers' game. While we were there, he showed me his comic books. Every one was in mint condition and stored in a sealed plastic bag. Growing up Mormon, I was never allowed to read comics that weren’t about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, so for me it was like being in Heaven,” said Ainge.
Over the years Ainge tried to convince Johnson to sell him the collection, but the three-time NBA MVP refused. But after the Lakers finished 11th in the Western Conference in the 2017-2018 season, Johnson contacted Ainge to negotiate a trade.
“At first I offered him two future first-round picks, but Danny wouldn’t take anything other than the damned comic books. Since I was going to put them for auction on Ebay anyway, I ended up giving in just to stop him from calling, emailing and texting me every five minutes about it,” said Johnson.
Ainge plans to give some of the less valuable comic books to Celtics players and personnel as retention bonuses. Meanwhile, the GM is currently negotiating a trade that would send players Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis to the Utah Jazz in exchange for GM Dennis Lindsey’s collection of rare Beanie Babies.