Los Angeles Lakers legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson took to Twitter on Wednesday to celebrate the departure of Mike D’Antoni, who resigned from his position as head coach after two seasons with the franchise.
Johnson was an outspoken critic of the Lakers front office’s decision to hire D’Antoni in 2012, stating at the time that he believed the organization had made a “critical mistake” by bringing in the former New York Knicks head coach instead of Phil Jackson. “Magic” reiterated his belief on Wednesday, when D’Antoni resigned after the Lakers' 27-55 record this season, their worst record since moving to Los Angeles.
“Happy days are here again! Mike D’Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn’t be happier!” Johnson wrote on Twitter.
During the 2012-13 NBA season, the Lakers went 40-32 under D’Antoni, who replaced former head coach Mike Brown just 9 games into the campaign. However, the team struggled mightily in 2013-14, missing the playoffs entirely and drawing criticism from everyone from Johnson to the team’s injured superstar, Kobe Bryant.
In all, the Lakers amassed a 67-87 record under the D’Antoni regime. Despite their struggles, several current Lakers players defended their former coach on Wednesday.
“It was a tough situation and he didn’t get a fair shot at it,” guard Jordan Farmar told ESPN Los Angeles’ Dave McMenamin. His teammate, Jodie Meeks, also praised D’Antoni. “Nothing but great things to say about him, man. Loved playing for him & wish him the best! Would play for him any day,” he said.
On TNT’s “Inside The NBA” broadcast on Wednesday, basketball analyst Charles Barkley criticized Johnson for publicly celebrating D’Antoni’s resignation, USA Today reported. “Magic Johnson’s bigger than that. Listen, Mike D’Antoni is a good coach. They didn’t give him a lot to work with. But Magic Johnson, he’s bigger than that,” Barkley said, via USA Today.