Why is Magic Johnson Trying to Torpedo the Already Inept Los Angeles Lakers?
I hate writing this because Earvin "Magic" Johnson was one of my Athletic Heroes when I was a kid. As someone obsessed with playing basketball when Magic became a household name back in the early 1980's, I modeled my game and attitude on the court after the guy.
He deserves the utmost respect for what he brought to basketball during that time and was a no-brain choice for the Basketball Hall of Fame. And the guy just kept on succeeding after that as a business man now worth hundreds of millions of dollars and an arm load of successful business ventures.
But Basketball Executive he's not.
Maybe he can't see it or maybe the people around him were too in awe to tell him, but his time in the Los Angeles Lakers front office as "Team President" will go down in history with his TV Talk Show as one of histories greatest disasters.
Never mind the odd personnel decisions and trades, it was the end of his executive career with the Lakers that baffled---well, just about everyone.
He didn't tell the owner--Jeannie Buss this was coming. He didn't tell, well anyone he was pretty much just walking away because the workload was "Too Much", something on the face of it when you consider all the outside business interests the guy has--makes some sense.
Rumors swirled Magic was an absentee executive who spent little if any time in the office. The questionable run of trades and immediate pressure after signing LeBron James made things even worse. Combined with a mediocre roster which did not mesh well with the aging James made for a team the so-called experts called a "Playoff" team. Everyone else called the 37-45 and out of the playoffs.
But alas---it got worse this week when Johnson inexplicably---or with a plan in mind went on ESPN's Bluster Fest a.k.a First Take and unloaded on his former G.M and new Lakers President Rob Pelinka by calling him a backstabber who undermined his time as boss.
The first: Later in the interview, Magic was asked if he'd be interested in buying the Lakers. He said he would. Because of course he would. (More in a minute)
Second: This was done a couple of hours before the Lakers introduced new Head Coach Frank Vogel and unfortunately, all anyone at the News Conference could talk about was of course what Magic said.
(Here's the Newser if you are interested---it's long)
Think for a second. If you want to buy a business do you want to buy them at peak success or do you want them when the value is low thinking you can drive it up after the purchase. It's capitalism 101.
Why else would Magic all of a sudden appear on TV again after being somewhat silent after walking away from the team?? He could easily have gone back to being Mr. Successful business man and nobody would have questioned him. But he didn't.
I know a lot of people following this are asking about current ownership. Jeannie Buss and her family took over after Jerry Buss passed away. The Lakers haven't been the "Franchise" in basketball for a long, long time. At minimum since Kobe Bryant retired and really before then.
Honestly, the drama and poker hands being played here are kind of fun to watch. On one side you have Magic maneuvering to figure out a way to purchase the team. He went from absentee boss to vocal assassin in a matter of minutes in one strategically planned day. And don't say the ESPN appearance was a coincidence or the airing of Dirty Laundry there. There is not a single intelligent person alive who believes that.
On the other, you have the Buss family, who has a zillion people in their ears and no real idea what to do about running a pro sports franchise, Pelinka who may--or may not be a person capable of running a team. (Leaning towards no) and apparently is friendly with Bryant.
And then there is the aging legend in LeBron who came to L.A with a lot of fanfare and landed largely like a fart from a whoopee cushion. LeBron appeared to alternately be not interested in or not capable of carrying his team like he did with some mediocre Cleveland squads. LeBron appears on the surface to be Switzerland in all of this but he bears some of the blame too.
2019 and 2020 LeBron is lot LeBron of 2010 or 2015 and never will be. Maybe Pelinka and the Lakers manage to bring in someone to compliment James, maybe they don't. It won't work out.
I hate to see Magic trying to undermine any team, never mind the Lakes whom he is a true living legend. I also hate seeing a guy who is a genuine legend in all aspects of his life trying not so subtly to torpedo things.
But then again, it is the Lakers and since they seem to be ordained as a "TV Ratings" franchise by ESPN, TNT and others, it's only Karma at play. It's the reason the NBA should focus on teams that are good instead of teams that are big names.
But then again, with a train wreck like this, it's kind of hard to look away....