Johnson, a part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was in a meeting recently between Dodgers officials and Los Angeles Times staffers. According to Mike James of the Times, Johnson commented about the direction of the team and decisions made by Buss, who is the chief decision-maker on team personnel matters since the passing of his father Dr. Jerry Buss. Here’s part of what Johnson had to say:
This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two coaching wrong decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it’s backfired. 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.'
This isn’t the first time Magic has spoken out. On November 9, 2012, Lakers head coach Mike Brown was fired after a 1-4 start to the regular season. A weekend of intense speculation ensued with former Lakers coach Phil Jackson meeting with Jim Buss and Mitch Kupchak regarding a possible return to the bench. In a surprise move however, management decided to hire Mike D’Antoni instead of Jackson.
After tweeting his displeasure over the move, Johnson expressed his feelings in more detail during an appearance on ESPN’s “NBA Countdown.” Per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, here’s part of what Johnson had to say about the decision-making process:
I love Dr. (Jerry) Buss. I don’t believe in Jim Buss. He’s made two critical mistakes already. To me, they made two critical mistakes. First, hiring Mike Brown—he wasn’t the right coach. He's a great coach but not the right coach for the Lakers. And I don't feel Mike D'Antoni is the right coach for the Lakers. Especially when you have Phil Jackson sitting out there, who wanted to be the Laker coach. Jim Buss decided he didn't want Phil Jackson, he wanted Mike D'Antoni. And that's OK, but why didn't you just say that? But the fans were cheering for Phil Jackson two nights in a row.
The Lakers finished the 2012-13 regular season with a 45-37 record and were swept in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs by the San Antonio Spurs. Coach D’Antoni’s own record for the regular season was 40-32.
Johnson clearly hasn’t changed his feelings toward the Lakers executive vice president since last season and his latest words are sure to find resonance with the team’s fans. The Purple and Gold are spiraling into an extended loss streak and are now beginning a difficult stretch of games with their annual Grammy road trip.
The Lakers’ record currently stands at 14-25 for the regular season and once again, questions are mounting.