Beck: Magic Panicking, Making "Rookie Mistakes"

Lakers fans should be "mildly alarmed" by Magic Johnson's reaction to the team's slow start

Reiter Than You
November 07, 2018 - 8:24 am

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Well, it’s safe to say that the LeBron James Honeymoon in Los Angeles is over. 

The Lakers (4-6) have been one of the most underwhelming teams in the Western Conference, and Magic Johnson is seemingly cracking under the pressure, as he is reportedly unhappy with Luke Walton, the offense, the defense and the coaching staff. 

Why is Magic reacting like this?

“Because Magic has never done this job before,” Bleacher Report senior NBA writer Howard Beck said on Reiter Than You. “I don’t want to be too hard on Magic. Magic is phenomenal, and we all love Magic. If he ran for mayor of L.A. tomorrow, he would win by 99 percent. But let’s be real about this part of it. One, Magic Johnson has never done a job like this before. He has never occupied this role. It’s fundamentally different. 

“Also, by the way – and this is, I think, a really key point – Magic wasn’t involved in the NBA for most of the last 20 years. He had a ceremonial-type title with the Lakers, but he was never in those offices. He was around sometimes, but he wasn’t around. He wasn’t in the front office. He wasn’t in meetings. He wasn’t helping build the team. He wasn’t involved in practices. He wasn’t involved in scouting. He wasn’t involved in any way shape or form in running the Lakers during that period of time.”

Instead, he was being an entrepreneur. He was running the Dodgers. He was buying strip malls.

“He has not been involved in the NBA,” Beck said. “The idea that Magic can walk in after (roughly) 20 years of being away from the game, that’s not the way you run a team. You hire somebody who has done this before. His GM is Rob Pelinka, who has been around the game and is very savvy – but was an agent and not a GM.

“All that said, they did some really smart things,” Beck continued. “Give them all the credit in the world for the way they drafted. Give them credit for clearing the cap room the get LeBron. Give them credit for getting LeBron. But some of these other things – get slapped twice for tampering, the current thing with Luke Walton – these are rookie mistakes.”

When asked to assess how Magic has handled the first few weeks of the LeBron era, Beck was direct.

“I’d say not well,” he said. “If I were a Laker fan, I would be mildly alarmed at the way Magic has handled this so far because it’s panic-y. It’s showing a lack of faith not only in your coach, but in the team you put together. Twelve of the 14 players on this roster were acquired by Magic and Rob Pelinka. I know Luke is not their coach – he pre-dates them – but this is their roster, and seven of those guys just got there this past summer. It’s a brand-new team that you already concerned enough to have a meeting with Luke Walton in which you’re reading him the riot act and then leaking that – or somebody is leaking that? Not a good sign.”