Magic Johnson is to the Los Angeles Lakers what Don Corleone was to Mario Puzo's The Godfather.
Not in the sense that he's a heavy-handed mob boss, but if you want to gain favor in L.A., you'd better kiss the ring. Don't think that the Hall of Fame point guard's approval doesn't matter in Tinseltown, because it does.
If you're Mike D'Antoni, this isn't what you want to see on Magic's Twitter:
The reason I haven't tweeted in 2 days is because I've been mourning Phil Jackson not being hired as the Lakers head coach.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 14, 2012
It's not surprising that Johnson was rooting for someone from the Lakers family. He made that known on Friday. Because the former Suns and Knicks coach doesn't fall under that umbrella, he's under even more pressure to deliver than he already was.
Johnson likely isn't rooting for D'Antoni to fail, but you can't tell me that there won't be a little "I told you so" in there if Los Angeles doesn't turn things around.
D'Antoni would face a ton of pressure without the negative sentiments coming from the Lakers legend. His "Seven Seconds or Less" offense already carries all of its predictable baggage. How will the Lakers defend out of it? Can their old lineup handle it? Is the bench deep enough to lend support?
Blame the Lakers organization for how they handled all of this. If they had fired Mike Brown and just hired D'Antoni rather than needlessly flirt with Phil Jackson, this entire thing could have been avoided.
Sure, Lakers fans and Johnson still would be pining for the man who brought five NBA championships to L.A., but it's different when you give everyone hope that it might happen.
Without bringing up Jackson's name in the first place, that idea would have been a pipe dream. D'Antoni could have settled in and actually looked like the Lakers thought he was the only man for the job.
It doesn't matter how close Steve Nash is to D'Antoni. It doesn't matter how much Kobe Bryant likes the decision. D'Antoni needs to win just like any other coach, or we will be revisiting this conversation again before too long.
Receiving Johnson's blessing wouldn't have given D'Antoni any sort of immunity, but Hall of Fame players tend to carry a lot of clout.
Watching D'Antoni adapt his offense to create a new "Showtime" Lakers team will be interesting, but seeing how patient everyone will be with him is the real show.