Former Lakers point guard Magic Johnson made an appearance on ESPN's debate program First Take today, and anyone following the Lakers the last few years knew he would have some criticisms to voice about Lakers owner and vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss. As transcribed by Inside SoCal:
"This summer has to be the biggest summer of Jim Buss' life," ... "Now you're starting to lose the fan base. If he doesn't have a big summer with a free agent, it looks like they'll have a good draft pick. Put that together with a good free agent, you can be right back into the mix. If this summer, that doesn't happen where they can sign a great player, it's over for us."
"We must get be back and relevant and sign a good free agent, get a good draft pick and send Kobe out the right way," Johnson said. "The Lakers can get back in the mix, but the West is so tough. That's the problem. The West is just so good. There's going to be two teams over .500 that won't make the playoffs. For Jim Buss, this is a big year for him and for the fanbase too in believing in him and trusting him. He can gain the trust back if he has a good summer."
Johnson also claimed to have no ulterior motives behind these criticisms, stating:
"He's mad at me because I criticize him," Johnson said of Jim Buss. "Then he's like, "Magic is trying to get a job with the Lakers. Magic is trying to bring me down.' No I'm not. I'm telling the truth about the situation and trying to make us better and trying to get us into a winning situation in terms of back to being relevant. So you get mad at me when I tell the truth. Then he's saying, ‘Oh he's just jealous that my dad picked me over him.' No, I decided to sell my shares. That was my decision. I knew I wanted to do something else. So quit pointing the finger at everybody else instead of pointing the finger at yourself.'
According to Johnson, while Jim Buss should be learning to point the finger at himself, the same does not go for Lakers head coach and former Johnson teammate Byron Scott:
"Coach Scott got them playing hard. You got to give him credit," Johnson said. "We don't have talent. We don't have enough talent to compete with the good teams in the NBA."
Scott recently called the entire team "soft" after a Sunday loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
These criticisms are nothing new coming from Magic, who has made a habit in recent years of blaming all the Lakers' failures on Jim Buss, while crediting their triumphs to Kobe Bryant, Jeanie Buss, or Mitch Kupchak.
It was thought that the hiring of Scott as head coach would put an end to all of this, but in the wake of this appearance, that assumption appears to have been premature.
If you are so inclined, you can watch Johnson's comments here:
Are Magic's comments over the line, or justified? Let us know in the comments!