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Mike D'Antoni: Magic Johnson's Comments Not Helping Coach's Transition to Lakers

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 28:  Head coach Mike D'Antoni of the New York Knicks argues with the referee during their game against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena on December 28, 2011 in Oakland, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIINovember 15, 2012

The Los Angeles Lakers are continuing to struggle as prospective head coach Mike D'Antoni prepares to take the reins.

The last thing the franchise or D'Antoni need is condescending commentary from a Laker legend, but that is what Magic Johnson has dished out to the coach and the front office since news broke of the new hire in LA.

Expectations are sky-high for this 2012-13 Lakers team, with superstars Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol all in the fold. That weight doesn't need to be added to by Johnson, who publicly reprimanded executive VP Jim Buss' hiring of D'Antoni as the team looks to turn around from its 3-5 start.

Johnson explained that recently fired coach Mike Brown wasn't the proper man for the job in the first place, and that D'Antoni is another swing and a miss by Buss and Co.

Feel bad for Coach Mike Brown, who's a great guy, but don't think he was the right guy for the job in the first place.

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 9, 2012

 

That wasn't all for the Hall of Famer turned ESPN basketball analyst, who knows the amplification of his massive platform in the public eye. After the Lakers courted Phil Jackson to return to the bench, they suddenly changed course to hire D'Antoni, who used to coach Nash in Phoenix and also had an uneven stint with the New York Knicks.

Here was Johnson's reaction:

My mother always taught me that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 14, 2012

 

The implication there is clear: Johnson doesn't exactly give the hiring of D'Antoni a ringing endorsement. But while he could have simply not said anything—instead of being so obviously against the front office's decision on Twitter—he did say something by saying nothing. If that make sense.

Far be it from me to question Johnson's assessment of the situation, because maybe he's right. Maybe D'Antoni isn't the right guy for the job.

However, Buss, GM Mitch Kupchak and the rest of the organization felt comfortable enough to hire him despite intensely recruiting Jackson to try to bring another NBA title to LA.

D'Antoni should at least be given a chance to prove himself in that context. This is easily the best team he has ever inherited. With the all-world defensive abilities of Howard, Metta World Peace and Bryant paired with D'Antoni's offensive genius, it could prove to be a lethal combination for the Lakers.

Locker rooms can block out a lot of things said in the media. Teams do it all the time, and the Lakers have enough talent, experience and veteran leadership to do just that.

But considering how pressure-packed, title-or-bust this head coaching job is already going to be, Johnson isn't doing the franchise or D'Antoni any favors by applying even more pressure.

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