COMMENTARY | A quick look around Southern California at the general pulse of the Los Angeles Lakers' fan base shows that one thing is unanimous in the wake of the latest coaching drama in Laker-land -- they don't like Jim Buss.
Now, Lakers legend and the man who is more qualified than anyone to speak on a national stage on behalf of Laker Nation, Magic Johnson, has surfaced with some the same sentiment. He said without hesitation that he does not believe in the man calling the shots for the organization's basketball operations, then cited exactly why.
Johnson and the rest of the fans don't like him because it looks like he's moving the team away from its great traditions of excellence. His decision to hire Mike Brown instead of sticking with the system that brought the franchise its last five rings was wildly unpopular among fans, and Johnson agreed. They wanted Phil, and so did Magic.
Finally, they were left scratching their heads after Buss pulled a fast one on all Lakers stakeholders and went with Mike D'Antoni, which in itself was not a bad decision. But as Johnson said, why trick the fans and get their hopes up in thinking that Phil was coming back?
Most fans in Los Angeles are savvy enough to know that Jackson brings a winning pedigree. They didn't want him for his name, they wanted him for the titles he brings. Ironically, general manager Mitch Kupchak and the Lakers cited a better fit with D'Antoni.
How can anyone buy what the Lakers are selling? It's hard to do that, and Jim Buss is at the center of it all. He's a scapegoat to a degree, but he's an easy target because Mike Brown, the now-departed Andrew Bynum and D'Antoni were all his guys.
For those scoring at home, it's Zen 5, Jim 0 in terms of titles. That's all that really matters here, and it's why the backlash against Buss is so strong. Magic only said what most of the fans are thinking.
The Lakers have been a model franchise and the envy of the NBA for a number of years, but that's all changing in front of their eyes.
They see a team on the decline, with aging and ailing superstars like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, and no continuity while the Los Angeles Clippers team that shares the same building electrifies crowds with Lob City and cohesiveness. Not to mention the fact that the Clips have perhaps the best bench in the league while the Lakers' bench was decimated when the team traded away Lamar Odom and got nothing in return.
The whole scenario frustrates Lakers fans and has taken the team's No. 1 fan in Johnson past his breaking point. He could have very well given the company line that he didn't know exactly what was going on and couldn't comment. But he did the Lakers' fans a great service by giving them a credible voice. No one carries more weight than Magic when it comes to matters concerning the Lakers.
When he talks, people listen.
He doesn't believe in Buss, and who could blame him? If you were a fan of the Lakers, would you?
Michael C. Jones is a Yahoo! Featured Contributor in Sports and covers the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA. He is also the editor of Sports Out West.
You can follow him on Twitter @MikeJonesTweets.