Just when the Los Angeles Lakers’ season couldn’t get any worse, it did.
As the remaining healthy Lakers and whoever the team dug up from its development team walked into the Staples Center for the final time in this season, the team, organization and fans were shell-shocked.
President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson called the press to gather around to hold an impromptu press conference, and what was to come out of his mouth became the most shocking part of this wild NBA season. He quit on the team that had given him everything.
However, the most shocking thing about Johnson’s sudden departure wasn’t the fact that he was quitting, it was that he did so without consulting anyone. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, who often referred to Johnson as her “brother” found out about him quitting when everyone else did.
To me, the five-time NBA champion was cowardly in his actions, being afraid to face his superior and making more of a joke out of the Lakers then the team itself already had this season.
“Somebody is going to have to tell my boss, because I know she’s going to be sick,” Johnson said in a press conference. “But I knew I couldn’t face her face-to-face and tell her.”
Johnson then absurdly used the excuse of not being able to tweet out his congratulations to Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade on his retirement, or for Russell Westbrook in his legendary 20-20-20 night against the Lakers without being handed a tampering fine.
It is speculated that Johnson didn’t want to be the one to fire head coach Luke Walton, who mutually parted with the organization less than 72 hours after the season ended. Walton almost immediately agreed to terms to coach the Sacramento Kings.
With all the injuries and embarrassing losses the Lakers had this year, I didn’t think anything could top how low I felt as a basketball fan until I was absolutely blindsided by someone whose name hangs high in the rafters at Staples Center.
The departure isn’t what is shocking. Anyone could see that the combination of general manager Rob Pelinka and Johnson did not go as planned.
Johnson himself promised that if he didn’t get the franchise back to its historic ranks within three years, he would resign.
He only completed two.
By not telling Buss, Johnson made one of the most powerful women in professional sports look foolish. The Buss family once had a reputation in basketball that everyone at least respected, and to me, Johnson ruined whatever the family had left.
Had Johnson known he would ruin the Buss family name by his selfish actions, I do not think he would have left and if he did, he surely wouldn’t do it the way he did.
As the NBA Playoffs began over the weekend, the old Johnson returned to Twitter, as he began his life as an ex-basketball executive, tweeting about anyone and everyone in the basketball world and in between playoff tweets, sprinkling in how much he loves and respects Buss.
With Johnson and Walton out, the Lakers are offered yet again a fresh start. This time, however, the team has multiple things to offer, LeBron James, six players on rookie contracts and a max contract slot, so not all hope is lost — yet.
The upcoming offseason will be without a doubt the wildest ride the Lakers organization has ever endured and at this point, and I can’t wait to enjoy the ride.
Expectations have flown off the table, and I’m open to anything to end this horrific playoff drought.