Magic Johnson made headlines on Tuesday when he publicly called out current Los Angeles Lakers owner Jim Buss on ESPN’s “First Take.” The Lakers 5-time NBA Champion criticized the owner for his poor leadership and inability to take advice from anyone, saying, “Jim is trying to do it himself and trying to prove to everybody that this was the right decision that [his] dad gave him the reins…He’s not consulting anybody that can help him achieve his goals and dreams to win an NBA Championship.”
Jim Buss took over as the executive vice president of basketball operations in February 2013 when his father and legendary owner Jerry Buss passed away. His first few seasons have been very rough. The Lakers set a franchise-high for losses in a single season with 55 last season, and at 13-39 right now the Lakers look to be on pace to surpass that mark this season—certainly not the record Buss would like his team to be breaking.
Johnson didn’t just stop with the criticism however, he also suggested a way to get Buss back on track: “I really believe this: [Kobe] should…say to Jim and them, ‘Look, if you don’t sign one of these free agents [this offseason], man, I’m just not going to play next year.’” Johnson is serious about wanting his former team turned around.
Johnson’s criticism of Buss actually started in 2012 when Mike D’Antoni was hired as the Lakers head coach over Phil Jackson; however, it seems to have come to a peak now. Johnson referred to the upcoming offseason as the most important one of Buss’s life. A number of big name player will hit the free agency market this offseason including Goran Dragic, Rajon Rondo, Marc Gasol, and LaMarcus Aldridge. If Buss fails to bring in at least one of these players, Johnson believes this will prove Buss’s inability to lead the team.
Johnson finished the interview by calling on Kobe to push Buss along: “Kobe, put pressure on Jim to say, ‘Look, man, you’ve got to bring me some talent, some help, so that this can be a great season for the Lakers and a great season for me, being my last season, and then I can retire.’”