Magic Johnson predicts Lakers won't win NBA Finals
It's indisputable that Magic Johnson continues to dazzle fans, with his storied player legacy, still surviving HIV and remaining involved in various business projects including a possible bid for the Dodgers.
He also divides Laker fans. As an analyst on ESPN, he predicted that the Celtics would win the 2010 NBA Finals and called for Lakers owner Jerry Buss to "blow this team up" even before their sweep to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Western Conference semifinals became official. And now there's this: Johnson predicts that the Lakers won't even make it to the 2012 NBA Finals.
"The Lakers are not the best team in the West," Johnson said on a recent ESPN roundtable segment. "Dallas first, Oklahoma City, second."
"Magic, you don't want Kobe getting more rings than you," ESPN NBA reporter Chris Broussard jokingly retorted. "That's what it is."
"No, he can get more rings," Johnson said with a laugh. "But I don't think he's going to get more rings with this current roster."
They have the talent and experience to compete for an NBA championship. But a compacted 66-game schedule does not favor a team sapped with basketball mileage and injuries, no matter how much rest they received during a prolonged NBA lockout.
There are personnel concerns too. Johnson, like everyone else, argues that the Lakers need to upgrade at point guard. Given the team's $91-million payroll, that could prove unrealistic. Johnson says Lamar Odom needs to scrap his reality-television show with Khloe Kardashian, and that Metta World Peace needs to, well, stop acting so goofy.
But don't count Johnson as believing that Mike Brown and Kobe Bryant will clash, pointing out that they have already "met several times." Instead, Johnson called on Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom to ease Bryant's burden in carrying the team.
"What [Laker fans] want is a commitment to winning," Johnson said. "If Coach Brown can get them committed to winning and each other, that'll be an improvement to last year."
But possibly not enough to win the NBA Finals.
— Mark Medina
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