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#pounditFriday, August 12, 2022

Stephen A. Smith goes off defending Magic Johnson against ESPN story

Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest-paid on-air personalities at ESPN, and he is not afraid to criticize the network that pays him millions each year. He proved that once again on Tuesday with another an epic rant in defense of Magic Johnson.

Smith’s colleague, ESPN senior writer Baxter Holmes, published a bombshell feature on Tuesday that included commentary from current and former Los Angeles Lakers employees about what working for Johnson was like. The overall theme was that Magic used “intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority,” with two staffers saying they had panic attacks and needed anti-anxiety medication because of the pressures Johnson heaped on them.

Smith, who is close with Johnson, went off about the story. He mocked the idea that Magic is a “fear monger” and ridiculed anyone who faults him for demanding excellence.

As Smith mentioned, the story was published the same day Johnson is scheduled to appear on “SportsCenter” for an NBA Finals coverage special alongside Smith, Mike Wilbon and Doc Rivers.

Johnson obviously has a very different account of the way things went in his brief time with the Lakers, and he had no problem pointing the finger with the remarks he made about GM Rob Pelinka. While you can understand Smith defending Johnson over putting pressure on his employees, the leadership style clearly didn’t work. Whether you agree with it or not, Johnson was unable to create an environment that allowed those under him to assemble a winning team.


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