Something upset Magic Johnson. For once, it did relate to the Lakers’ current struggles or executive Jim Buss.
Instead, it involved any notion that the Golden State Warriors could ever beat the Showtime Lakers.
“My Lakers, our will to win, our knowledge of the game and how smart we were at the game. We would take something away,” Johnson said Tuesday on ESPN’s “First Take.” “We’re not going to give Golden State everything they do now. We were too smart. Pat Riley was a master at putting together a game plan to go up against everybody we went against in the Finals or the playoffs. One thing we were great at was executing that game plan.”
Johnson still complimented the Warriors. He argued they “revolutionized the game with how they play, how much they have and how they execute.” He admitted we’ve never seen two guys that can shoot like Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson]. With the Warriors setting an NBA regular-season record for wins and holding a 2-0 NBA Finals series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Johnson predicted, “they’re going to be great for the NBA for a long time.”
Yet, Johnson dismissively conceded any notion that the Warriors’ lethal 3-point shooting or their depth could ever send the Showtime Lakers home. Instead, Johnson outlined why the “Warriors would have bad matchups against us.”
“There’s no way they’re going to deal with Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar],” Johnson said. There’s no way they’re going to deal with James Worthy. The thing that we could do, that would affect them and cause some problems, is that we could set up and we could run on them on the fast break … Whoever is going to guard me, I’m going to be wearing them down. I’m going to be wearing them out. James Worthy will be wearing them out, wearing them down. Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] is going to be wearing them out, wearing them down.”
Johnson made those comments after Thompson said perhaps in jest that the Warriors could beat the Showtime Lakers. But this hardly marks the first time both sides weighed in on the debate. Former Lakers coach Byron Scott argued during the 2015-16 season that the Showtime Lakers would beat the Warriors in a seven-game playoff series because of defensive concerns with Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and Worthy.
“Bring any of those guys on,” Johnson said. “We got problems with them. but they have bigger problems with us.”