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Public Airing Of Lakers’ Dirty Laundry’s A Smokescreen For Buss’ Failed Leadership

Magic Johnson doesn’t even work for the Lakers anymore, so why must he keep defending himself while ownership remains silent?

Blame Magic. Blame Rob Pelinka. Blame Rich Paul. Blame who you want for the Lakers dysfunction, but at the end of the day leadership starts at the top and Jeanie Buss is the owner of the NBA’s coveted franchise.

She gets no pass from me. She sits back and allows all of these different stories and narratives to be thrown out there. She allows her front office guys to be dragged under the bus by media and people who claim to know what’s going on inside the organization, while she remains silent.

Counting her checks.  

That’s not leadership. The last we heard from Jeanie Buss, she was lying to everyone and trying to convince us that the Lakers never had any intention to trade away half the team for Anthony Davis.

The last public appearance she made ended miserably, with everyone in the world knowing she lied. Jeanie needs to stop hiding behind her privilege and step up and lead the Lakers if that’s what she’s tasked to do. 

Baxter Jones painted Magic as some tyrannical boss in the infamous article. Pelinka actually came up looking like roses.

“I would love to hear from Jeanie Buss about how the Lakers organization will be run going forward,” said NBA TV analyst Steve Smith in response to a scathing ESPN report that lists the Lakers front office as dysfunctional and accused Magic Johnson of mistreating his employees.  “She doesn’t have to, but we want to know who’s making the decisions and who’s going to be the guy other than Rob Pelinka that can get this organization back on the right track.”

Sports News & Videos on Twitter

Magic Johnson responds to article on Lakers’ dysfunction: This is ‘my truth’ | SportsCenter” #SportsVideo #ESPN #SkySports #FoxSports #NBCSN #Sportsnet #NFLNetwork: https://t.co/bEWE6DHntl

So If I’m looking from the outside in —  and I’ve been following Magic Johnson since he helped transform the NBA into the greatest show on earth back in the 80s and then followed his entrepreneurial pursuits and philanthropy which has been legendary and beneficial to so many people —  I’m not buying any criticisms of his business acumen, ability to perform his functions as a basketball executive or claims that he abused employees. 

It’s obvious to me that since his departure, the Lakers are trying to scapegoat Magic. The ESPN article apparently plays right into that, which is just shady to me.

Magic has made more public appearances as a former Lakers employee then he did when he was actually running the show. Every week now, Magic has to defend himself, while everyone else sits back and hopes that they can slide out the back door on this without being called to the carpet.

“I’m a person who brings everybody, together…uplifts employees. I never abused any employees and I never will,” said Magic in an exclusive sit down interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith and OG Michael Wilbon.  

Magic also directly responded to reports that he allowed LeBron’s agent Rich Paul special liberties, which included flying with the team. 

“Rich Paul had access to the Lakers because he had two clients on the Lakers. He called and said ‘hey I’m in Brooklyn,’ …we talked about allowing him to fly back with the team and that’s the only time he flew with the team because he was in Brooklyn. It was on me. I allowed him to do that.”

Magic also readdressed the Rob Pelinka situation:

“Rob and I, when we were there we worked well together, but the little things that were going on behind the scenes bothered me.”

Magic is referring to reports that Pelinka would call him out in front of office employees and sent disparaging emails about him to Jeanie Buss, behind Magic’s back.

We use to call those kinds of actions, “b***h sh*t.” (pardon my French). However I’m not even sure if that’s a politically correct description of such activity anymore.

Most offensive to Magic is this social media-driven and underlying racist narrative that he was incapable of performing his duties as an executive, which would seem absurd if you understood how Magic built his empire through intelligence, business savvy, relationships and a grasp of economics.

Black men have been called “lazy” way too often in this society. At times, they are also called “overly ambitious.” Both Lebron and Rich Paul have been labeled as such by old white money.  It’s one of those bigoted and stereotypical words used to discredit the talents, work ethic, incomparable resilience and abilities of African-American men in a space that is often dominated by whites. 

It seemed like a clear power struggle between the Lakers white contingent and the rising black stars of NBA business. It’s shameful.

Stephen A Smith on Twitter

People calling Magic Johnson lazy??? RIDICULOUS. https://t.co/ilQfaN87Yh

“And last but not least… lazy?” Magic asked. “ I have built a $600 million business. You cannot be lazy going from playing basketball and winning five championships… So I wasn’t lazy as a player and I’m not lazy as a CEO and business owner. That’s never going to happen. It’s OK if you want to try and lie on Magic, go ahead. I know the truth. Jeanie knows the truth because if I had disrespected somebody she would have called me in her office. And that never happened. HR would have called me…Never. “

Everybody has an opinion, but the ones I value are those of the people who have known Magic for years like former NBA player Steven Smith.

There’s always two sides to a story,” Steve Smith continued.”If you know him like I know him you call him Buck. One thing about Buck is he is always going to hold himself accountable. He talked about that was on me with Rich Paul, but says it never happened with the employees. He said Jeanie Buss knows the truth. For him to come out and defend himself that way..he’s never been to HR and he says Jeanie Buss knows the truth.”

Smith reserved judgment on most of the accusations until a thorough investigation is conducted, but he appropriately refused to absolve Buss of the blame and bury Magic and Rich Paul. The attack on Black men apparently extends to the Lakers organization as well.   

Logically speaking, the main impediment to the Lakers success seems to be the many voices and opinions that cloud Buss’ judgment and smeared the chain of command, creating chaos and apparently stopping Magic from doing the job that so many people are saying he couldn’t handle.

Magic’s inability to exercise his power is nothing new.  The bottom line is, if you are a black executive or coach, once you get the job you still have to deal with the fact that you are often entering a situation where white ownership is not providing you with the autonomy and power you need to actually put your plan into effect.

“Magic said it best,” Smith insisted. “ If he could do it all over again he should have been able to hire his own people. Not under an organization with this kind of format because it seems like they (he and Pelinka) came together and both had split powers.

If Magic could do it all over again, he’d want to hire his people from the GM on down. He didn’t get that chance and obviously, we have seen the dysfunction of the organization and it starts at the top.”

First Things First on Twitter

Two groups of people really dislike Rich Paul: other agents that are afraid to have their clients sign with the Lakers because they think Rich might poach them, and league execs that resent what LeBron and Rich have created. via @getnickwright https://t.co/OIwUwlhuvf

And that’s where everyone’s focus should be. On the woman that holds the ultimate power in the organization. It appears to me that she created more chaos with her strange relationships with her front office. A mess of this proportion can’t start with Magic, stop with Magic or be placed on Magic’s head.

Why the heck do you think he left so abruptly? As much as he loves Jeanie – like a sister he’s repeatedly said — she’s clueless and running the Lakers like a mom and pop store. Decisions are being made over tea parties, pillow talks, and whimsical exchanges.

Let’s hear from Jeanie Buss. Let her explain where she failed as the most powerful person in this situation. She gets no more passes. Time for her to step up and set a course for the Lakers future. 

Like Smith said, “When you’re winning you can sit back and collect trophies. When you’re losing (and you’re in charge) you have to step out in front and (handle your business).”

Period.

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