Magic Johnson hoping to buy Dodgers

Magic Johnson has joined a group bidding to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"I love baseball," Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. "I’ve been a Dodgers fan and gone to the park many, many times."

The Times first reported Johnson’s interest in the Dodgers.

”I’m excited to have the opportunity to be part of the Dodgers legacy & bring a World Series championship back to LA,” Johnson tweeted Friday.

Johnson, the longtime Los Angeles Lakers superstar and former part-owner of the NBA club, is partnering with former Atlanta Braves executive Stan Kasten and wealthy investor Mark Walter in the upcoming auction for the Dodgers, who filed for bankruptcy protection in June. Owner Frank McCourt finally agreed last month to auction the team at an undetermined future date.

"Stan Kasten is my man," Johnson told The Times. "He’s a winner. He’s built two incredible organizations and he’s well-respected. That is what was important to me. I had to get with a winner, a guy who understands baseball inside and out. . . . Both guys are about building a winner and making a difference in the LA community."

The three-time NBA Most Valuable Player has become a successful businessman since his second retirement in 1996, with investments in several sectors of commercial real estate. But Johnson’s passion still is sports, and he has spent several years looking for an ownership role in a pro franchise, most recently expressing his interest in returning the NFL to Los Angeles.

Johnson amicably left his ownership position with the Lakers in October 2010, selling his 4-1/2 percent equity stake to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong in what’s widely thought to be a wildly lucrative transaction for the former Lakers point guard.

The Lakers would love to see Johnson with a large ownership role in the Dodgers. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak regularly speaks with Johnson, who has said he’ll never leave his influential role behind the scenes with the Lakers and the Buss family.

”I know he’s sitting on a pile of cash, which is maybe why I take his calls as often as I do,” Kupchak said Friday. ”He’s been incredibly supportive as an owner. Never once did he say, `Mitch, this is what you should do.’ He would be a great owner (of the Dodgers).”

Johnson played baseball growing up in Michigan, where he rooted for the Detroit Tigers. He is the latest high-profile potential buyer of the iconic franchise, which was driven into bankruptcy by McCourt.

Former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley is in the mix, and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said he’s investigating the prospect. Former Dodgers Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser have been vocal about pursuing the club, while former Dodgers general manager Fred Claire, Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso, supermarket mogul Ron Burkle and former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano have been linked to the bidding.

Earlier this week, former talk show host Larry King said he was interested in joining a potential ownership group with White Sox executive Dennis Gilbert.

"It would be a thrill of a lifetime to be a part owner, partial owner, of a team I grew up rooting for as a child in Brooklyn," the 78-year-old King said.

The price likely will break the record for a baseball franchise, topping the $845 million paid by the Ricketts family for the Chicago Cubs in 2009.

Newscore contributed to this report.