Basketball legend “Magic” Earvin Johnson didn’t hold a single thing back during his interview with Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday morning, letting loose on a number of topics having to do with his prized Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson happily quit his job as the Lakers’ president last month — that much was known.
But the Hall of Fame point guard who won five championships with the Lakers opened up to Smith in ways once thought unimaginable, with Magic dishing on what he described as a dysfunctional organization. Magic was so brutally honest, in fact, that some users across social media branded him a snitch. Whether Magic broke any kind of “code” was debatable as the amicable 12-time NBA all-star has always come across as not having a malicious bone in his body.
After listening to the interview in full, there were five main takeaways that stood out the most in a storyline that’s all but guaranteed to have the NBA and its fans buzzing for months.
1. Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka stabbed him in the back
Magic said he only accepted the job of Lakers president after he said he was assured by Lakers owner Jeanie Buss that the organization would both allow him the power to make decisions while he also attended to his other successful business ventures. However, Magic said, he would soon find out that neither was the case as he blamed Pelinka, Kobe Bryant‘s former agent for spreading rumors that he wasn’t working hard enough and that he was rarely in the office.
2. Magic wanted to fire head coach Luke Walton
This was not a secret in the basketball world, but what was kept under wraps — until Monday — was that Magic said he was forbidden from terminating Walton’s contract. That was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Magic said, adding that “we gotta find a better coach.” The Lakers and Walton parted ways just days after Magic quit following a season where the team finished with the league’s 11th worth record.
3. Magic would rather buy the Lakers than work for them
“When I think I don’t have the decision-making power that I thought I had, then you gotta step aside,” Magic explained to Stephen A. Monday morning. But he left the door open for his return to the franchise under one condition.
4. Kobe Bryant should be more involved with the Lakers
Magic left no franchise stoned unturned as he tried to pinpoint what the NBA’s second-most valuable franchise must to change its fate and become a contender again. The Lakers missed out on the playoffs this season despite being led by LeBron James. But in typical “it takes a village” form, Magic said the presence of fellow Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was needed.
5. LaVar Ball was right!
The opinionated founder of the fledgling Big Baller Brand who, rumor had it, was banned from the Lakers’ facilities after complaints he was being a helicopter dad for his son, Lonzo, the team’s point guard. Ball, like Magic, was happy back in February to discuss what he saw as the Laker’s main problem — a “crumbling” Lakers organization. During an interview on FS1’s “The Undisputed,” Ball told host Skip Bayless that Magic was “just the face” of the Lakers, suggesting the franchise was “crumbling down.”
Critics panned Ball at the time for his assessment that Magic proved correct Monday morning.
Still, despite Magic’s honest criticism for an organization that he helped thrust to prominence decades ago, some on social media questioned the basketball legend’s intent. Scroll down to see a sampling of the social media posts in response to Monday morning’s interview.