In the wee hours aftermath of the Los Angeles Lakers' decision to hire former Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni instead of 11-time champion Phil Jackson, Ball Don't Lie's own Eric Freeman tweeted this prescient aside:
And, 48 hours after a self-induced Twitter hibernation, the five-time NBA champion and one-time Los Angeles Lakers executive has responded with a couple of doozies:
(We use the word "doozy" because we've heard Phil Jackson say that particular word before, and we're sort of mourning Los Angeles' decision as well.)
Johnson hasn't been part of the Lakers' official family for a few years now, selling off his stake in the team to at first attempt to grab a job as an NBA personnel chief before going all-in to become part of a group that recently purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers. And since he sold off that limited stake, he hasn't shied away from criticizing his former team. You'll recall that, last May, Johnson fell just short of guaranteeing that the Lakers would fire Mike Brown if Los Angeles lost in the first round against Denver. The Lakers prevailed, and so did the thinking that the Lakers wouldn't think of eating the last few years and $11 million left on Brown's contract.
It took heightened expectations, a winless preseason, and a 1-4 start to the season to actually take care of all that.
[Related: Phil Jackson wanted to humiliate Lakers VP]
Even with a strident batch of animosity between off-and-on Lakers personnel boss Jim Buss and Jackson, the once-surprising notion that Phil would return to the Lakers turned into an expected sign off over last weekend, with Jim possibly being overruled by should-be Lakers personnel boss Mitch Kupchak and Lakers owner Jerry Buss. It turns out, instead, that Los Angeles pulled a bit of bait and switch on Phil, denying him the chance to use the full weekend to consider what truly is a life-changing decision and instead moving forward without Jackson's knowledge to hire D'Antoni as the midnight oil burned away.
Jackson, the NBA community, its fans, and even D'Antoni was shocked by the move. Magic was as well, apparently, and it seems as if he's hit the grieving part of his particular healing process.
It also appears as if he doesn't get the whole, "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all"-thing.
Because Magic said it. He's "mourning" the Lakers' decision, like a lot of us are even if we think D'Antoni could work brilliantly as Lakers coach. And by rule of omission, after signing off on the idea that he's full of bad things to say, Magic more or less said all he needed to in 140 characters or less.
So, the semantics are a little off. It doesn't matter. Johnson is no longer a Laker, technically, and though he's not the greatest of NBA analysts over at ABC/ESPN (our mother taught us that if you don't have anything nice to say …), he is still paid to observe and discuss the NBA, and he's more than allowed to say all this and more.
Is it kind of a drag for Mike D'Antoni to have to come to work this week knowing that the greatest Laker of all time isn't exactly enthused about his hiring? Sure. But Mike D'Antoni will also be paid millions to coach Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash.
D'Antoni is likely to make his debut with the Lakers on Friday against the Phoenix Suns. ESPN will not be televising the game, but Magic should be in studio in Bristol to comment on that evening's proceedings.
[Fantasy Basketball '12: Play the official game of NBA.com]
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