Magic Johnson isn’t too thrilled about the decay of his former vehicle for glory, and he’s got a firm idea about who’s to blame: team heir Jim Buss, son to the late Jerry Buss.
"Jim is trying to do it himself and trying to prove to everybody that this was the right decision that [his] dad gave [him] the reins," Johnson said Tuesday on ESPN. "He's not consulting anybody that can help him achieve his goals and dreams to win an NBA championship.”
That includes general manager Mitch Kupchack, as Magic would have it. "If Jim would say, 'OK, Mitch. You run the show,' I think it would be a lot better for the Lakers, too. Mitch Kupchak knows what he's doing. He's great. He's smart. He's hard-working. He's at every practice. I think the fans would feel good [if he ran the team] as well.”
Magic even went so far as to say that if the Lakers strike out in free agency this summer, and fail to bring in a big name next to Kobe Bryant, that the Black Mamba should retire.
There are, of course, 24 million reasons that Kobe probably won’t do that.
But Johnson is right to wonder about the direction of the franchise. The team’s power structure is unclear in this current era, with the maligned Buss son and his sister Jeannie working in some sort of mysterious, and frankly ineffective, tandem with Kupchak.
The good news for the Lakers is that they’re the Lakers. Their brand is still one of the most powerful tools in sports, and the idea of being the star to resurrect their ship is going to appeal to an elite player later, even if it doesn’t now. This embarrassment isn’t built to last.
— John Wilmes