It's no secret that the 2012-13 season has not been what the Los Angeles Lakers nor their fans hoped it would be. Signing Steve Nash in free agency gave the team its first true point guard since Nick Van Exel, and trading for Dwight Howard provided the Lakers with the best center in the NBA. On paper, Los Angeles appeared ready for a title run.
That never happened. Mike Brown was fired after the Princeton offense failed, Mike D'Antoni was hired over Phil Jackson to replace him, and none has been more vocal or critical about the Lakers' shortcomings than former team great and NBA Hall of Famer (not to mention honorary VP) Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
The same Magic Johnson who thought the Lakers could do no wrong on the heels of what appeared to be an absurdly successful offseason.
Welcome to LA @stevenash.Laker Nation is excited to have you!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 12, 2012
Welcome to the @lakers Antawn Jamison— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) July 19, 2012
Welcome to LA, @dwighthoward, city of champions & Lakers Nation!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) August 10, 2012
We should all applaud & salute Jim Buss & Mitch Kupchak for making these moves happen.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) August 10, 2012
Of course, Magic wasn't the only Lakers fan counting those chickens a tad early, but it also goes without saying that the most exciting thing about this franchise has thus far been waiting to hear what comes out of Kobe Bryant's mouth next.
With great talent comes great expectations, something Johnson understood even amidst his exuberance.
How about making the playoffs? Or, avoiding those five-game losing streaks?
Once the consummately optimistic Lakers great was finished bemoaning the shortfall of his beloved Dodgers, it was time to look ahead to what promised to be a more successful high-priced roster.
Little did he know that he'd be comparing L.A.'s other team to those Showtime Lakers just months later. Perhaps Magic should have taken some of his own advice.
.@lakers Nation needs to remember that nobody has ever won a championship in preseason.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 23, 2012
Yes, Magic was meaning to assuage concerns about L.A.'s tepid preseason performance, but his sentiment cuts both ways. Championships aren't won in the preseason, and they aren't won in the offseason either.
But who could blame Johnson for what was hardly unfounded giddiness? Lakers fans were collectively thrilled about the first game of a regular season that was to be anything but regular.
I've been at Staples since 5 so excited for this @lakers game!You'd think I was playing the way I've been anticipating the game.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 31, 2012
Then reality began setting in ever so slowly.
Even after an early morning workout & my drench class, still having a bad day after that @lakers loss last night.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 31, 2012
I'm a bit confused by the @lakers last night.Don't know if the main issue is the free throws, the defense or problems on offense.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 31, 2012
All that being said, it is just one game so no need to panic yet @lakersnation— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 31, 2012
Just one game turned into... well, you know.
Where's the defense @lakers?Thought the offense would struggle some these first few games, but not defense.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 1, 2012
Coach Mike Brown should focus on defense, which is what he does best.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 1, 2012
The advice for Mike Brown was short lived. So was Brown.
Feel bad for Coach Mike Brown, who's a great guy, but don't think he was the right guy for the job in the first place.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 9, 2012
Jim Buss has another big decision. The @lakers need a championship caliber coach.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 9, 2012
I'd love to see Phil Jackson or Brian Shaw.Wish Pat Riley was available.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 9, 2012
Good ideas, but L.A.'s front office had something else in mind. When Mike D'Antoni was hired, Johnson was neither shy nor subtle about how he felt on the team's decision.
The reason I haven't tweeted in 2 days is because I've been mourning Phil Jackson not being hired as the Lakers head coach.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) November 14, 2012
On November 30, with the Lakers still struggling to adapt to D'Antoni's system without point guard Steve Nash, Johnson was also quick to point out the gaping flaws in the team's overall performance. One day they were a cohesive unit fully embracing the fast-paced offense, and another they just had nothing going for them.
Despite the Lakers' struggles, Johnson never had anything but good things to say about team star and future Hall of Famer, Kobe Bryant.
Congrats to Kobe Bryant on scoring 30,000 points...Definitely one of the greatest players ever! #KB30K— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) December 6, 2012
Of course, despite having a position within the organization and being a former team great, Johnson continued to tweet like a fan and not so much the scholar of the game that he is.
This will be my last tweet about the @lakers until they win three in a row!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) December 15, 2012
Sure enough, he kept his promise.
Recently, however, Johnson's attitude on Twitter has changed. After being quick to blast the hiring of Mike D'Antoni, he was just as fast to support the man after the Lakers lost their third straight game.
I'm tired of blaming the coach, the responsibility is on the @lakers players.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 7, 2013
Shortly afterward, he went into crazy fan mode again, albeit a bit more rationally.
Actually, I have a question. Since when does Johnson speak for all Lakers fans? What's with all of this running commentary on the season?
Don't get me wrong. I understand that he loves the team, as they are the reason he is an NBA legend, but what's the point of him saying everything that's right or wrong with the Lakers?
Granted, fans often do take to Twitter, Facebook or any form of social media to rant about their team performing badly or extremely well, but Johnson's words aren't really doing anything. He's really just pointing out the obvious problems and making them seem worse than they really are, rather than giving ideas on how to fix them.
Look at it this way. The Lakers do need to play better basketball. In fact, they need to play MUCH better basketball.
Save for Steve Nash, the entire team is used to playing a certain system, and D'Antoni's approach is well out of their comfort zone, notably Pau Gasol.
Then again, that actually explains this tweet from Johnson.
Jim Buss made me happy when he said that @paugasol would play more in the low post once he gets healthy!— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 11, 2013
Whether or not he has been correct in his criticism of the team or not, it's all irrelevant. He does not represent the Lakers, nor their fans. The man is just a former player tweeting/ranting about the team he loves, like any passionate fan. He just happens to have plenty of advice where that passion comes from.
LakerNation: I'm hoping that Jim Buss told coach D'Antoni to work on the @lakers defense.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 11, 2013
The sad part is that, like most die-hard fans, Johnson's criticism moreso seems to be coming from the heart and not so much the head. He is quick to judge the Lakers, but just as quick to praise them.
Thus, this "commentary" of his isn't going to help the Lakers turn things around. He said it himself. It is up to the players themselves to get the job done.
That means that Johnson needs to stop with the rantings on Twitter, sit back, and let the Los Angeles Lakers figure things out for themselves, without his input.