On Monday morning, the Los Angeles Lakers held an introductory press conference for their new head coach, Frank Vogel, at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo. However, while the day was supposed to belong to Vogel, attention quickly turned to general manager Rob Pelinka, who was made available for comment for the first time since Magic Johnson’s surprise resignation in April.
As if Johnson’s resignation alone wasn’t worthy of its own separate press conference Johnson went on ESPN’s “First Take” earlier that morning to talk about why he left the Lakers and accused Pelinka of betraying him. It’s a miracle Vogel got a single peep out.
Later in the day, Vogel got the undivided attention he deserved on “The Doug Gottlieb Show,” but he made it clear that he didn’t mind the way his press conference with the Lakers went:
“It became a little bit different with the events of the morning, but that’s just the NBA. People say all the time that this is the best drama to follow in the world, so you expect stuff like that in this league. It was a little bit different, but at the end of the day my focus is on getting integrated into this team and rolling my sleeves up and getting ready to get to work.”
In fact, Vogel said it didn’t bother him at all — like, not even a little bit:
”It literally meant nothing to me. The fact that it pulled away from that... It was a proud moment for me, but honestly, my focus is on getting to work. The fact there were a few questions directed towards Rob instead of me, really impacted me in zero way at all. It was not a big deal. Again, I’m just excited about being here, a) with his proud franchise and b) the time that I get to be here, during this window with LeBron James and what we’re going to build and surround our young core with. We have a tremendous opportunity, and that’s where my whole focus is, not on the other stuff.”
Now, this could be Vogel’s version of, “I’m not mad, I actually think it’s funny,” but everything he’s said so far suggests that he’s been genuine. For a franchise that always has a lot going on around them, that’s a good trait to have.
That being said, it would be in the front office’s best interest to not put Vogel in an awkward situation like this again. No, they didn’t have any control over what Johnson said on ESPN, but they could have gotten out in front of it by showing up at media day or making themselves available for comment prior to Monday.
This front office has made a few mistakes over the last year, but they have an opportunity to learn from them and start fresh this summer. Let’s hope that’s what their intentions are.