The first priority is the big picture, and if Magic Johnson can be pragmatic, that should be good enough for the rest of us.
But like I said, you can be right and still be a hypocrite, and with that in mind, it takes serious onions for Magic to even share this wisdom. Last season, as the Lakers were mired in the exact same problems — losses piling up, laughable defense, Staples Center boo birds — for the exact same reasons — injuries, middling roster — with a lottery pick hanging in the balance, Magic took every possible opportunity to blast Mike D’Antoni. And I mean BLAST the dude. Publicly. Mercilessly. With all the exclamation points!!! He literally celebrated D’Antoni’s resignation. But with his good friend and Showtime teammate Byron Scott now at the helm, Magic has suddenly zero criticism for a flailing squad.
An 0-5 start was presented with unwavering positivity. Losses now aren’t just embraced. They’re the goal. The hypocrisy is shameless, and likely does more to hurt Scott than help, since it ultimately draws attention to a dirty little secret Laker fans may loathe admitting, but also can’t deny.
22 games into last season vs. 22 games into this campaign, Mike D’Antoni was the better coach, and it’s not even close.
So it’s understood, I’m not here to take up for D’Antoni. The guy’s tenure was neither successful nor popular, and he alienated too many key people over two years. Even if you think he got the short end of the stick (and to a large degree, he did), hanging around would have been untenable. And I want to make perfectly clear just how much respect I have for Magic.
He’s among the greatest, most transcendent athletes to ever walk the Earth, and yet his post-basketball career is probably the more impressive chapter. The man is legitimately inspiring and iconic. But his comments, beyond the lack of class, feel indicative to me of the chaos swirling around the Lakers these days. While Johnson no longer is formally connected to the organization, his voice carries enough weight that he might as well be. At a time when players, Scott, and the front office alike are all trying to avoid any appearance of tanking, Magic is rooting for L’s.
Whatever message the Lakers are trying to send, Magic has muddled it.
Then again, the front office is chock full of mixed messages these days. They’re hoarding cap space for superstars and superstars only, which may prevent the infrastructure necessary to land said superstars. They’ve also devoted one-third of their cap space to one guy, and even if that guy happens to be Kobe Bryant, that’s a dicey way to build a roster. Sure, Kobe’s presence was deemed necessary to put butts in seats and draw eyeballs to televisions, but this methodology ironically created a team that’s often unwatchable. Plus, Jim and Jeanie Buss have provided no signs of being on the same page. Whatever the “plan” is, I’m not sure you could get two similar answers from anybody pulling the strings.
Unification is on short supply these days, and Magic rooting for defeat feels like the latest example of how fractured this organization appears at the moment.[divide]
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