Magic Johnson explains main problem with current LA Lakers team

Magic JohnsonMagic Johnson has never been reluctant to give his opinion on how the Lakers are playing, and he has recently said that the problems on the court can be traced to the owner’s office, LA Times reported.

Johnson, whose Hall of Fame playing career included five NBA titles in his 13 seasons with the Lakers, says owner Jim Buss needs to take a few pages from the book written by his father Jerry Buss, who made the Lakers one of the most successful and entertaining franchises in professional sports.

“This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two wrong coaching decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it backfired,” Johnson said.

“The biggest problem they’re going to have right now … you’ve got to get a guy like Jerry West to be the face of the team,” he said.

“You’ve got to have someone helping Jim. He’s got to quit trying to prove a point to everybody that he can do it on his own, get his ego out of it, and just say, ‘Let me get someone beside me to help achieve the goals I want.’ ”

Johnson acknowledged that getting West to return would be difficult, but added that having an empowered person in the general manager’s role is critical.

“You need to get someone like Jerry to be the face, so agents are comfortable, players are comfortable, knowing the Lakers are going for a championship,” the former Laker said.

“Look what Pat Riley did in Miami,” referring to the former Lakers coach who assembled the current team featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. If Pat Riley’s not there, you don’t get LeBron to buy in,” Johnson explained.

Johnson added that current Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak is doing a good job. “Mitch is great,” he said, “but he doesn’t have the power.”

Johnson also said, “Everybody’s telling me free agents don’t want to sign [with the Lakers]…. They’re looking at the Lakers now as a team that’s dysfunctional; who’s their leader, who’s the guy?”

The Lakers (15-25) are in one of the worst slumps in franchise history. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and have fewer victories than all but two teams in the Western Conference.

“Dr. Buss was smart,” Johnson said. “He said, ‘I’m going to get the best dude, Jerry West, and he helped me achieve my goals. Then I went and got the best coach [in Phil Jackson]. He wanted to work with the best.”

West, general manager of the Lakers from 1982 to 2000,  is a consultant with the Golden State Warriors.

To be sure, injuries have played a significant role in the Lakers’ woes. Kobe Bryant, Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Xavier Henry are all out now. As for Bryant, Johnson said there should be no rush to return to the court even after his broken knee has healed. Should he sit out the remainder of the season?

“He’s got to,” Johnson said. “What is he coming back to? He’s not going to be able to stop the pick and roll, all the layups the Lakers are giving up. He’s been hurt twice, give him the whole year to get healthy,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s career achievements include three NBA MVP Awards, nine NBA Finals appearances, twelve All-Star games, and ten All-NBA First and Second Team nominations.

He led the league in regular-season assists four times, and is the NBA’s all-time leader in average assists per game, at 11.2. He played in 906 NBA games, holding career averages of 19.5 ppg, 11.2 apg and 7.2 rpg in 36.7 minutes per game.

Johnson was a member of the “Dream Team”, the U.S. basketball team that won the Olympic gold medal in 1992. He also is a 5-time NBA Champion.


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