Alexander: When Magic Johnson spoke out, we shouldn’t have been surprised

first_imgThe world according to Jim (aka, As The Lakers Turn):• Earvin Johnson has never been one to hold his tongue. We’ve loved that about him over the years, even if there have been times when we’ve cringed, too. He wears his heart on his sleeve, he hardly ever says no comment, and he’s often painfully honest, sometimes at the expense of his own image.Which is sort of what happened Monday, when Magic went full metal jacket on the Lakers’ front office. He upstaged the introduction of new coach Frank Vogel, which might or might not have been a coincidence; “First Take” host Stephen A. Smith insisted on his radio show Monday morning that the appearance had been booked before the Lakers hired a coach, much less set a news conference date.More significantly, Magic put his name to specific criticism of Rob Pelinka that, for the most part, had been common knowledge among NBA insiders but largely had gone unattributed. … • Worth noting: Veteran radio reporter Ted Sobel asked Pelinka about the best way to quiet the criticism of the front office and added, “and how does transparency come into play?”Pelinka ignored that part of the question. Maybe he figured that subject is a no-win at this point. And that was the last query before the session was cut off.• The organizational position seems to be that winning solves everything. Ordinarily, that’s true.“Simply put, the best way to quiet the noise is to do what the Lakers do, and that’s to win and to compete for banners,” Pelinka said. “The noise will exist if you’re not doing that.”But it is now six years since the Lakers have made the playoffs, and a good segment of their fan base has serious questions about the organization’s ability to build a championship team.The front office can say “Trust us.” But when the fans ask why, for credibility’s sake you’d better not be stuck for an answer. …• Vogel, who made the best of a difficult situation Monday, might be the most sympathetic character of this whole kabuki. He seems genuinely excited to be there, he has a plan and a philosophy, and he seems unfazed by the idea that he’s joining a franchise that has historically thrived on drama.Related Articles AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers• The immediate narrative was that Magic damaged his image by speaking out and that his comments were self-serving. Maybe to the first, probably to the second, but Magic said things that needed to be said. And at least he spoke. …• I gave Pelinka credit for at least facing the media Monday during the Q&A part of Vogel’s news conference. But a lot of questions were left unanswered during the 26 minutes and 23 seconds of the formal session. Vogel stayed for some TV one-on-ones and an informal gaggle with other reporters, as is usually the custom, but Pelinka did not stick around at all.That seems to be the Lakers’ way of doing business nowadays.Jeanie Buss hasn’t spoken publicly since the season ended and was not visible Monday, though she was in the building. LeBron James, who also hasn’t talked aside from the HBO show he co-produces, attended the news conference and shot some baskets afterward – the image of media people shooting video with their phones while LeBron shot layups was comical and sad at the same time – but then bolted out the door without a word. Kurt Rambis attended, but he, too, did not make himself available.Do they realize you can’t control the message with silence? … Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions His three-year contract in a league where a guy coming from the college level, John Beilein, just got five from Cleveland? The idea that the guy most people have assumed will be his successor, Jason Kidd, will be on his staff? No biggie.“I’m good at blocking out noise,” he said. “I’ve been around this business a long time, and I really don’t give that a second thought.” …• Vogel also said something unprompted that, whether purposely or otherwise, speaks to the need to turn front-office chaos into true collaboration. I wonder if it came up during the job interview.“We need to build togetherness with our organization,” he said. “And I don’t just mean with the 15 or 17 guys that are going to be in uniform and in the locker room. I’m talking about organizational togetherness, starting with ownership, the front office, to the coaching staff, players, trainers, the business side. We are all going to be pulling in the same direction.”That has to start at the top. Is it possible? How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers last_img


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