Will Magic’s Betrayal Doom Lakers?
Why Magic Johnson’s withering attack on Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss should have little impact on the Lakers’ offseason success
The Kardashians could not have scripted a better reality television script than Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson scripted as he savaged Rob Pelinka, Jeanie Buss, and the Los Angeles Lakers in a scathing interview yesterday on ESPN’s First Take.
Timed to air just hours before the Lakers had scheduled their introductory press conference for new head coach Frank Vogel, Magic pulled no punches as he threw Rob Pelinka under the bus for backstabbing him and Jeanie Buss for incompetence in running the franchise. For a man who claimed he had no regrets, Magic’s comments smacked of someone eager to get even with those who criticized his performance and lost respect for his views and opinions.
While still claiming he loved the Lakers, there was no doubt Johnson’s intent in the interview was to justify his controversial decision to abruptly quit as President of Basketball Operations and cast blame on everybody else in the organization, including Rob Pelinka, Tim Harris, and anybody named Buss. The timing of the interview left little doubt that Johnson was still bitter and looking to do anything he could to undermine and damage the Lakers brand.
The irony is Magic likely did more to harm his own brand and legacy than he did to hurt the Lakers’ chances of signing or trading for a second superstar to pair with LeBron James and becoming a championship contender next year. While the ownership and front office situation is a mess, Magic left the Lakers in an enviable situation with the best player in the league under contact, a talented young core, the #4 pick in the draft, and $38 million in cap space.
It’s going to take a lot more than a petty, self-serving, indulgent interview by a bitter former superstar trying to blame others for why he failed and quit as president of basketball operations to prevent the Lakers from retaking their natural position as one of the iconic franchises in all of professional sports. While they’re unquestionably dysfunctional, the Lakers simply have too many natural advantages to prevent them from rising again to the top of the league.
Whether it’s the money, the team’s historic legacy, the chance to live in L.A., the opportunity to play for the team you grew up rooting for or with LeBron, no other team in the NBA can compete with the Lakers built-in advantages. Even if the they strike out with the top superstar free agents this summer, the Lakers still have a wealth of valuable trading chips in young players and the #4 pick in the draft to trade for a second superstar to go with LeBron James.
The Lakers have always been professional sports’ version of reality television. That’s why Magic Johnson’s withering attack on Rob Pelinka and Jeanie Buss should have little impact on the offseason success of the Los Angeles Lakers.
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