Before the Lakers got embarrassed by a visiting Raptors team without Kawhi Leonard on Sunday night, their president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson, cleared the air about coach Luke Walton, who had reportedly been on the hot seat earlier in the week when Magic took him to task in a private meeting.
"I said it, Luke took it and we’re all good," Johnson informed the Los Angeles Times. "It’s no big deal." When he was asked if Walton would serve out the remainder of the year, he appeared to back him up with an important caveat: "He’s going to finish the season," Magic said. "Unless something drastic happens, which it won’t." For the crowd who thinks Luke's job security is directly tied to the whims of their best player, LeBron appeared to back him up after the Lakers won in Portland on Saturday.
Magic doubled down on that support when he told ESPN "Yeah, we're not going to fire him," following LA's brutal opening quarter against Toronto, where they fell behind 41-10 before losing 121-107. "[Walton meeting last week] wasn't even a meeting about that. We just have to be better, and that was it."
We imagine Magic flashing that dazzling smile of his while wiping his hands together in an exaggerated way that appears to say no muss no fuss. However, Earvin clearly hasn't spent much time in an online Lakers forum, within earshot of Lavar Ball, or around the cesspool even ardent
fans supporters journos covering the Lakers beat sometimes bathe in. The Lakers coterie considers anything less than perfection a huge demerit on the coach because [puts on Lakers hat] LeBron is LeBron—not as good as Kobe, but still good—and Brandon Ingram is like Jason Tatum but BETTER and Lonzo needs to be unshackled and AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH WHY DON'T YOU JUST LET ME COACH, LOOK AT THESE AWESOME X'S AND O'S TWEETS I DID! [Takes off Lakers hat].
The Lakers legitimately looked dreadful and uninspired in the first quarter on Sunday night, but they've played a little less than one-eighth of a season so far. Even if that's enough of a sample size for national reporters to claim they're missing the playoffs, maybe Luke deserves a little bit more of a chance after so much roster turnover and the addition of the best player perhaps ever (miles better than Kobe). Magic understands this. In 1979, when he jumped into Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's arms following the captain's game-winner in Johnson's very first NBA game, his teammate Norm Nixon explained the team's reaction.
"All of us just kind of looked at him, like 'Yo, man, chill. We got 81 more games to go.'" Magic caught on quickly; Hopefully, Lakers fans can too.