Magic Johnson vows not to criticize Lakers, Mike D’Antoni, Jim Buss

Magic Johnson backtracked, pivoted and handed off an assist.

This doesn’t dazzle as much as his signature passes during the “Showtime Era”. But it still could cause one to shake their head in surprise. Magic Johnson has criticized the Lakers for everything imaginable. Their poor defense. The Lakers’ decision to hire Mike D’Antoni last season over Phil Jackson. The direction executive vice president of basketball personnel Jim Buss has taken this franchise. The losing, too.

But Johnson has vowed he won’t do that anymore.

Instead, Johnson tried looking for the positive surrounding the Lakers, a hard task considering their 16-30 record, injury-depleted roster and 29th ranking out of 30 teams in total defense (106.1 points per game).

Yes, the Lakers have featured pleasant surprises from various role players, such as Nick Young, Jodie Meeks, Kendall Marshall and Ryan Kelly. But those developments serve as mere window dressing covering up an otherwise depressing picture.

But Johnson recently criticized Buss’ influence in hiring D’Antoni and the Lakers’ poor defense under his leadership. D’Antoni has refused to comment, but Johnson’s criticisms surely bother him.

According to the team’s website, the Lakers have lost a combined 153 players due to injuries through 46 games. Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash have only played six games each. Bryant missed the first 19 games while rehabbing his left Achilles tendon, and has stayed sidelined for the past six weeks because of a fractured left knee. Nash has continuously suffered nerve issues in his back and hamstrings. The Lakers lost all three of their traditional point guards in Nash, Steve Blake (hyperextended right elbow) and Jordan Farmar (torn left hamstring) for significant chunks of time. Pau Gasol had also suffered a variety of ailments, including an upper respiratory infection, sprained right ankle, a moderately strained tendon in the big toe of his left foot and a recent groin issue that leaves his status probable for tonight against Charlotte at Staples Center.

Dwight Howard’s departure this offseason to Houston coupled with the Lakers’ strategy to sign a brevy of cast-off players on one-year deals to maintain cap flexibility has also resulted in short term, pain.

But Johnson vows he won’t gripe about such issues. Instead, he says he’ll provide positive reinforcement.


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