Magic Johnson agents mull Argentine offer

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[buenos aires] Move over Diego Maradona. Argentine sports club Boca Juniors wants to bring back another aging athlete who doesn't play soccer and he isn't even Argentine. If that's not enough, the club doesn't plan to pay a cent of his salary.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson is at the top of Boca Juniors' scouting list and could play for the club's basketball team during the second half of next season, from February 1997 to May 1997, if a deal can be struck.

"The possibility is there. Boca just has to get the sponsors," club press coordinator Ivan Pavlovsky says. Boca Juniors' plan consists of signing large companies to front the former Los Angeles Lakers star's salary, which Pavlovsky would not divulge.

"People are already contacting us about (sponsoring Johnson) - all kinds of companies," he was quoted as telling Argentina's La Nacion newspaper.

Nike Argentina, which on October 1 begins a five-year contract to clothe Boca Juniors' soccer and basketball teams, says it is not interested. "We're not going to participate in this project," Nike Argentina marketing director Guillermo Salinas says.

Len Rosen, Johnson's manager, is due in Argentina next month to discuss terms of a contract, Pavlovsky says. If Johnson signs, it will not be the first time Boca Juniors has tapped sponsors to finance a big-name comeback. Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona signed with the club last year, with the entirety of his contract fronted by Buenos Aires TV station America 2.

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