According to Pat Riley, Magic Johnson is the greatest player in NBA history.

(Riley says that if both players were in their primes, Magic would beat LeBron James in a one-on-one duel.)

Johnson is about to embark on his first season as the Lakers’ president of basketball ops, and Riles knows that things won’t be easy.

Per the OC Register:

“When things aren’t going good the first year, he’s going to go down there and want to be Lonzo Ball’s mentor … ” Riley said, his trailing off.

 

Some in the audience for the American Express-sponsored event at the Conga Room in L.A. Live laughed. Others gasped, since the Lakers have not revealed their intentions on how they will use the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. Though the Lakers will hold an individual workout for Ball on Wednesday, they also will work out Kentucky guard De’Aaron Fox next week.

 

Riley considered it “the best choice at the right time” for Lakers governor Jeanie Buss to hire Johnson to replace her brother Jim Buss. Yet, Riley sensed Johnson will go through a steeper learning curve than when he won five NBA championships, including four with Riley as the Lakers’ coach.

 

“My first three months I was in fits. I had lost control,” said Riley, who has been the Miami Heat’s president since 1995. “You lose control of the team and the game. You’re just selecting players. One thing you don’t want to do as president is second-guess your coach, hang out in the locker room and question him too much.”