Thirty-three minutes after the Los Angeles Lakers confirmed that Mike D'Antoni had resigned as their head coach, Laker legend and Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Magic Johnson offered — in no uncertain terms — his opinion on the coach's exit:
Happy days are here again! Mike D'Antoni resigns as the Lakers coach. I couldn't be happier!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) May 1, 2014
That Johnson wasn't D'Antoni's biggest fan is far from new information, of course. Immediately after D'Antoni's hiring to replace the fired Mike Brown as the Lakers head coach in November 2012, Johnson tweeted he was "mourning" the Lakers' decision not to re-hire Phil Jackson, who had won five championships during his 11-year tenure as L.A.'s head coach.
He took his opposition from Twitter to television shortly thereafter, saying in his role as an analyst on ESPN's "NBA Countdown" that he did not feel D'Antoni was the right coach for the Lakers, "especially when you have Phil Jackson sitting out there." Three weeks later, Johnson publicly criticized D'Antoni's strategy, offensive scheme and defensive acumen during a Dodgers press conference announcing the acquisition of pitcher Zack Greinke. Such criticisms continued, on and off, for most of the next year, including a notable January 2014 appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" in which Johnson again cracked on D'Antoni as a poor defensive coach.
“He don’t teach defense,” Johnson said. “I can’t stand to watch the Lakers play because the same play happens every single time on the Lakers — pick and roll and the guard goes all the way in for a layup. What are we, 40-something games into the season? The teams run the same play on us. We haven’t stopped it yet. Uh, duh.”
A couple of days after his chat with Jay, Magic said he was going to stop complaining about the rotten state of the injury-ravaged and on-their-way-to-27-wins Lakers, because "it doesn't do the Lakers players, coaches or ownership any good for me to complain." I'm not sure it does anyone good for Johnson to dance on D'Antoni's grave mere minutes after the headstone's been laid — in fact, it seems like a pretty needless, tactless and classless move — but hey, I'm not the legend.
This continues a pretty interesting week for Magic, who found himself at the center of the Donald Sterling debacle when audio recordings surfaced featuring the Los Angeles Clippers owner chastising his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, for posting photos she'd taken with Johnson and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp on Instagram, since doing so would "broadcast that [she was] associating with black people."
"Don't put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games," Sterling said on the tape, which was published early Saturday morning by TMZ.
Johnson responded by tweeting that he and his wife would never go to another Clipper game so long as Sterling was the team's owner, and later went on television to say that Sterling "shouldn't own a team anymore." The NBA is working on that.
While NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was in the midst of his investigation of Sterling's comments, Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Magic and the Guggenheim Partners, his billionaire cohorts in purchasing the Dodgers, were "absolutely interested" in buying the Clippers if they were to go on the market. Johnson responded hours later by tweeting that he was not trying to buy the Clippers, because they already had an owner. On Wednesday — two days after his denial, and one day after Silver banned Sterling from the NBA for life — Johnson told a gathering of Southern California business leaders that he and his partners are interested in buying the team. (On that score, he has company.)
It obviously remains unclear whether Johnson will find himself in the running to own the Clippers, or with an opportunity to buy into another NBA franchise in the future. One thing, though, seems very clear: If any Magic-owned franchise needs a head coach, Mike D'Antoni's phone probably won't be ringing.
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