L.A.

Magic weighs in on Lakers coaching debacle: Doesn’t ‘believe in’ Jim Buss

As the dust settles following the Los Angeles Lakers’ latest drama surrounding the firing of Mike Brown and subsequent hiring of Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson, the sports world finally got to hear from the Lakers’ No. 1 fan, Magic Johnson. 

Johnson said what many fans have been thinking about the entire ordeal on national television after remaining silent in the 48 hours following the initial announcement of the D’Antoni hire. Courtesy of ESPN Los Angeles

“I love Dr. (Jerry) Buss. I don’t believe in Jim Buss. He’s made two critical mistakes already. To me, they made two critical mistakes.First, hiring Mike Brown — he wasn’t the right coach. He’s a great coach but not the right coach for the Lakers. And I don’t feel Mike D’Antoni is the right coach for the Lakers. Especially when you have Phil Jackson sitting out there, who wanted to be the Laker coach. Jim Buss decided he didn’t want Phil Jackson, he wanted Mike D’Antoni. And that’s OK, but why didn’t you just say that? But the fans were cheering for Phil Jackson two nights in a row.”

Jim Buss is the son of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss and runs the basketball operations for the organization in place of his father, who is less fit to do so day-to-day as he advances in age. Johnson, like many fans, is not happy with the job he’s done during his tenure in that capacity. 

Photo by Raul / Wikimedia Commons

Magic is echoing the sentiments of the majority of the Lakers fan base as eloquently and succinctly as any one person could. There are so many questions surrounding this tragic turn of events in Laker-land. The hyperbole — tragedy — is necessary to use as a description because that’s precisely what it is. It would have been fine, as Magic said, to hire D’Antoni after firing Brown. 

But why dangle the Phil Jackson chip like a carrot in front of fans and the Zen Master himself? Whether or not you believe that Jackson had substantial demands that were too much to for the team to take on is irrelevant (sources close to Jackson have vehemently denied that claim).

The Lakers can’t come out looking good in this situation because they teased the fans. These folks are already a fickle and impatient bunch, but they do know winning, and in their minds, Jackson gave them the best chance to do so. 

If the Lakers are selling D’Antoni over Jackson and really mean it, they’re either in denial or let egos get in the way of making the absolute most logical set of circumstances unfold. Either scenario is unfortunate and a lose-lose. Maybe Jackson was arrogant and demanding, perhaps not. The bottom line is that Johnson was right to call out Jim Buss because the fans got excited, and even the players were looking forward to the possibility working with the greatest coach in NBA history once again.  

But it was ripped from them, and Johnson let the management have it — deservedly so. The time will come when all of this blows over, but if the younger Buss pulls any more moves like the ones made over the weekend, then the organization hasn’t seen anything yet in terms of fans’ dissatisfaction. 

Again, Johnson didn’t say anything profound here. He simply spoke for an entire Laker nation, and he hit the nail on the head.  

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His credits include Yahoo Sports and Bleacher Report, among others.
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