Magic Johnson done ripping the Lakers, Mike D’Antoni

Magic JohnsonMagic Johnson has developed a curious habit of ripping the Los Angeles Lakers over the past year, but he says all that is over.

The Lakers franchise legend tweeted on Thursday night to announce his change of plans, which began with some praise of coach Mike D’Antoni:

Magic has made headlines twice in the past few weeks for his critical comments about the Lakers. He criticized executive Jim Buss in comments to the LA Times a few weeks ago, and this week he ripped D’Antoni and the team during an interview with Jay Leno.

Magic is generally viewed as a friendly, likable guy. Maybe some marketing folks told him it’s bad for his image to keep criticizing the team. Or maybe he just decided that it wasn’t helpful to continue voicing negative opinions.

This is somewhat unfortunate, because we agree with Magic that Jim Buss has not run the team well. What’s wrong with expressing that publicly?

Magic Johnson rips Lakers, Mike D’Antoni

magic-johnsonMagic Johnson appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno on Tuesday, and he shared some of his usual thoughts on the current state of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers are 16-30 and are well on their way to missing the playoffs. In fact, they have the second worst record in the Western Conference.

Leno asked Johnson why it is so bad in LA right now. His answer will not surprise you.

“We made a critical mistake in not bringing Phil Jackson back,” Johnson said. “That was a critical mistake. He wanted to come back, then they went with (Mike) D’Antoni.

“(D’Antoni) doesn’t teach defense. I can’t stand to watch the Lakers play because the same play happens every single time — pick and roll and the guard goes all the way in for a layup. We’re 40-something games into the season. The teams run the same play on us. We haven’t stopped it yet.”

Last year, Magic went on an epic Twitter rant and ripped the Lakers players for the team’s struggles. This year, he is placing the burden on the coaching staff and front office. Earlier this month, Johnson said owner Jim Buss is LA’s biggest problem. He reiterated that when speaking with Leno.

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Magic Johnson blames Jim Buss for Lakers’ problems

magic-johnsonMagic Johnson has been arguably the Los Angeles Lakers’ most vocal critic over the past two seasons. Last year, he blasted several Lakers players in an epic Twitter rant urging fans to stop blaming Mike D’Antoni for the team’s struggles. Magic still isn’t blaming D’Antoni this season. Instead, he believes owner Jim Buss is the problem.

“This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two coaching wrong decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it’s backfired,” Johnson told the LA Times on Wednesday.

“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. … 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.'”

Magic said he believes Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak is “great” but that he is not given enough power. By targeting someone like West for a front office position, he believes the Lakers can attract big-name free agents like the Miami Heat have.

“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. … Look what Pat Riley did in Miami,” Johnson said. “If Pat Riley’s not there, you don’t get LeBron to buy in.

“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?”

Because he believes the 2013-2014 Lakers are a lost cause, Magic also agrees with Charles Barkley that Kobe Bryant should sit out the remainder of the season.

“He’s got to,” Johnson said, adding that the Lakers should have taken their time signing Kobe to an extension. “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.”

Almost exactly a year ago, Magic declared that it was “over” for the Lakers. He was right. He’ll probably be right again this time around.

Magic Johnson discusses his sexual promiscuity in the 1980s (Video)

Magic-JohnsonMagic Johnson was kind of a big deal in the 1980s. The Los Angeles Lakers legend won five NBA titles and three NBA Finals MVP awards during that time period. As you might expect, his success led to quite a bit of jersey chasing.

During a recent appearance on Oprah’s “Next Chapter,” Magic openly discussed some of his sexual encounters from the 1980s. He spoke about having flings with women that were never really serious, and said any of his sexual partners always knew he would end up marrying his current wife Cookie.

“Oh no, oh no and they knew,” Johnson said, via TheJasmineBrand.com. “They wanted to be Mrs. Johnson and I was like, ‘Uh, ah I only got one person that’s gonna be Mrs. Johnson’. And they were like, ‘What? Why [not] me? Who is that? Who is she?’ All those type of things..When I get married, I’m marrying Cookie and they all knew that.”

In fact, Johnson said most of his sexual encounters were of the wham, bam thank you ma’am variety.

“I didn’t have people sleep over,” he said. “That wasn’t the thing for me. So, it was more we had fun and that was it. I never disrespected women. I was always upfront. I wasn’t a guy who would mislead anybody. Once you’re upfront then they have to make a decision on what they wanna do and so they made their decision.”

When asked if he was ever with one or more women at the same time, Magic simply said “yes.” Is any of this a surprise? Hardly, but it is pretty entertaining to hear Johnson discuss it so openly with Oprah. You have to wonder how his wife feels about that.

H/T Jocks and Stiletto Jill

Magic Johnson defends Clippers for covering Lakers’ banners

Magic Johnson Nate Robinson PredictionMagic Johnson on Thursday defended the Los Angeles Clippers’ decision to begin covering up the Lakers’ championship banners and retired jerseys inside Staples Center when they host games.

News emerged last week that the Clippers would begin covering the Lakers (and Kings) banners inside Staples Center for their home games in order to make it more of a home atmosphere. New Clippers coach Doc Rivers is the one who came up with the idea.

Magic, whose jersey is retired by the Lakers and hanging in Staples Center, said on Twitter Thursday that he has no problem with what the Clippers are doing.

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Bill Simmons thinks someone at ESPN leaked Magic Johnson story to Deadspin

Bill-SimmonsMagic Johnson revealed last week that he is leaving ESPN’s NBA Countdown this season due to his busy schedule and other commitments. The surprising thing about the announcement was that it came just one night before the start of the NBA season. A report from Deadspin later claimed that the abrupt departure was the result of a power struggle involving Bill Simmons.

Sources reportedly told Deadspin that NBA Countdown is “Simmons’ show now” and that Magic was unhappy when his friend Michael Wilbon was told his role with the show would be diminished.

“The bottom line is they turned that show over to Simmons,” the source supposedly said. “That’s why Doug Collins got hired and why Wilbon was out.”

Johnson, an NBA legend. apparently didn’t like the idea that he now had to answer to Simmons. In a recent interview with SI.com’s Richard Deitsch, Simmons firmly denied that he had anything to do with Magic’s decision to leave. In fact, he believes someone at ESPN leaked it.

“Those unnamed ‘sources’ are liars,” Simmons said. “Someone planted a fake story to try to make me look bad, and there’s a 99.3 percent chance it came from someone in Bristol (which presents its own set of concerns). I was upset; I can’t lie. Maybe this happens to people more often than I realize, and maybe it comes with the territory, but man … I can’t properly explain how fantastic it was to watch basketball with Magic for nine months.”

Simmons said he even felt disappointed when Magic informed him he was leaving and felt like he was giving up on the show.

“Anyway, that’s why the ‘report’ upset me so much — it wasn’t just that someone made it up (and how disturbing that is), but how I felt in real life was the exact opposite of what that ‘report’ portrayed,” he said. “I felt blindsided when Magic left. I thought he was quitting on the show, and I guess on me, too. I took it personally.”

Simmons makes for great television, and the powers at ESPN obviously appreciate his willingness to go after popular NBA coaches and attack other sports networks. As I said before, I thought Magic was horrible with most of his analysis. We may never know the exact reason why he left, but I doubt there are many people who are devastated.

Magic Johnson leaving ESPN’s NBA coverage

magic-johnsonIf you happen to be one of the few people who enjoyed listening to Magic Johnson talk about NBA games, you are not going to like this news. ESPN announced on Thursday that Magic will not be returning to the set of “NBA Countdown” next season due to his other commitments. Johnson also released a statement addressing his departure.

“I love ESPN,” Magic said. “Unfortunately, due to the nature of my schedule and other commitments, I don’t feel confident that I can continue to devote the time needed to thrive in my role. I will always feel a strong connection to the ESPN family and I enjoyed working with them very much.”

Earlier on Thursday, SI.com’s Richard Deitsch reported that Doris Burke is expected to join “NBA Countdown” as a studio analyst this season. Former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins also recently signed a contract with ESPN.

Look, I love Magic as a player and respect everything about his legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers. Who doesn’t? The guy was just simply painful to listen to and made some of the most idiotic comments I have ever heard in my life. The program can only improve in his absence.

Meanwhile, Magic’s Los Angeles Dodgers have punched their tickets to the NLCS, where they will be taking on the St. Louis Cardinals with a trip to the World Series at stake. His dealings with the Dodgers almost certainly played a decision in his role to leave ESPN.