31 years ago, during the days before social media, Magic Johnson complained through the media that head coach Paul Westhead's high-scoring offense, which carried the Lakers to a championship in his rookie season was too dull. Paul Westhead's firing by the Lakers remainds the most ironic in league history.
Today, Westhead is known as the Guru of Go after his nitrous speed offensive system shattered collegiate and NBA records and Magic is back at his coach killing ways. This time, newly-hired Mike D’Antoni is in Johnson's crosshairs before ever coaching a game.
On Wednesday afternoon, after going on Twitter silence in the wake of D’Antoni’s hiring, Johnson broke his silence with a message heard throughout the Twittersphere: ‘The reason I haven’t tweeted in 2 days is because I’ve been mourning Phil Jackson not being hired as Lakers head coach.’
Johnson then tweeted, ‘My mother always taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’
On Wednesday night’s ESPN NBA Shootaround, Magic elaborated on his cryptic tweets by voicing his distrust for Jim Buss’ decision-making since assuming day-to-day organizational control from his father Jerry.
"I love Dr. (Jerry) Buss. I don't believe in Jim Buss," Johnson sullenly said on ESPN's "NBA Countdown" on Wednesday night. "He's made two critical mistakes already. To me, they made two critical mistakes.”
Unfortunately, Magic is misguided. There are a plethora of reasons why Phil Jackson was passed over for Coach Pringles.
We’ll disregard the relationship between Nash and D’Antoni. That storyline’s been rehashed more than Rihanna and Chris Brown dating rumors.
For instance, Jackson’s Triangle offense is too intricate for even the Zen Master to teach and install midway through the first month of the season.
It was Magic’s former teammate and current general manager, Mitch Kupchak, who ultimately decided Mike D’Antoni was the best fit for the current Lakers roster—not Jim Buss.
"Without going into great detail, some of our guys, I don't think would be very successful in the Triangle," Kupchak said Tuesday of his reasons for cutting off negotiations with Jackson. "Some of our newer players might take a long time to learn the Triangle."
However, as much basketball acumen as Magic may have nestled inside his shiny dome, you could also say the same for His Airness, who sucked the oxygen out of the Bobcats roster until they fizzled into one of the worst teams in NBA history. Or Isiah Thomas. Or Elgin Baylor, the Dean of Hall of Fame players turned catastrophic front office execs.
Being compared to Jordan, the owner and talent evaluator may seem harsh but keep in mind that immediately after trashing D’Antoni, Johnson pointed to his right and suggested he would have hired Stan Van Gundy’s brother, Jeff as Lakers head coach if Jackson declined.
As bright of a defensive architect as Jeff Van Gundy is, his slow and plodding offenses made Brown’s Princeton/read-and-react hybrid look like a Twista recording session.
Magic should know better after getting Westhead axed.
We were the dullest team in the league. I'd look at films and say, 'What is this?'” Johnson told Sports Illustrated after Westhead’s firing in ’82.
With Steve Nash directing the Lake Show from Magic’s former position, the Lakers are trying to squeeze out a pair of titles before most of their cap space expires in 2014 and slowing down the offense would not maximize the two-time MVP’s talents.
Lastly, Magic’s words are conflicting his own statements from last season. After Kobe Bryant demanded an ultimatum from management to either trade Pau Gasol or assure him he would not be traded, Johnson said that Jim Buss and Bryant should develop a closer rapport.
However, Magic’s harsh criticism of Buss and D’Antoni ignores Bryant’s gushing praise over the coach he called his ‘first option’.
Magic’s comments on Wednesday night also illuminate a truth. While he’s great in the media, Magic letting his personal relationship with Jackson interfere with the business side of basketball proves he has a lot more In common with Jordan than hardwood greatness.
Although, Johnson no longer owns an ownership stake in the Lakers, he is the Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner. Passion is great but if Magic’s going to return his franchise to prominence, hopefully he infuses similar passion without the blind emotion in his office within Dodger Stadium.