The Lakers’ hiring of Magic Johnson as their team President of Basketball operations has been met with mixed feelings, to say the least. Many people have questioned whether he was legitimately qualified for the job, or if he got the job in a form of nepotism. (He and Jeanie Buss have known each other since they were both teenagers.) Others have stated that his past as a successful business man and player are all the experience necessary for the job, and that it’s impossible to know whether he’ll fail or not.
Either way you view it, you have to admit it’s quite the discussion. So, we at Real Ball Insiders (with the help of Pedro Jonathan and Wardell) decided to have our own roundtable:
1.) I’ll just be blunt with this first one: Do you think Magic Johnson is qualified to run the L.A. Lakers?
I’ll keep it 100 % honest with you, I’m torn in half with this question. Showtime Magic will always be loved in Los Angeles, Magic the GM, I’m not entirely sold yet. Magic was brought in to be the President of basketball operations after GM Mitch Kupchak was fired for not landing a superstar, so Lakers faithful first thought was that he was going to break up the young core of Randle, Clarkson, Russell and Ingram. We all know the brand of Magic Johnson in Los Angeles will attract big names, let’s just hope that he doesn’t trade the assets that make Los Angeles an attractive landing spot in before that happens.
His business acumen suggests that he’s somewhat qualified to run a franchise as far as the financial management side of things, but I’m not the most confident person in his ability to manage a team. We’ve seen him as a coach before and he failed. We’ve seen him try to talk about basketball on t.v. and he failed (multiple times). Outside of his playing career, he hasn’t proven that knows how to assess, accumulate and properly assemble a roster of talented players. However, he does have ownership experience with the LA Dodgers and the LA Sparks, so he could have picked up something of value in those experiences. I genuinely don’t know how it’ll pan out, but I have to admit, it’s damned-intriguing.
Yes, Magic Johnson is the perfect fit to be the president of operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. It was only right that he came back to LA and work some of his Magic like he did throughout his career. Magic knows what winning looks like because he’s been apart of winning before. Not only he knows what winning looks like, but he knows what it takes to get there. This not his first front office job in sports Magic is the owner of the Los Angeles dodgers. The work he did for the dodgers is incredible, LA went to the National League Championship.
2.) Given the history of former star players and their attempts in front office positions, do you think it’s still a good idea for teams to hire them in the future?
Well, I think teams need to forget about what players have done for them in the past, because it doesn’t guarantee a winning future for their franchise. Right now the big three to point to are MJ, Larry Bird, and Magic. None of them succeeded as coaches/management, but they’ve gotten more chances, much quicker than anyone else would in the traditional sense. But to the bigger part of the question, “do I think it’s a good idea to hire them…” No. I think that fans tend to grossly overrate the basketball intelligence tied with some former players. It’s not just front office positions either, the same applies for broadcasting. There are fans who still value Charles Barkley’s opinion as the end-all-be-all, and it’s not. His opinions are as baseless as the average fan’s are. It’s only the eye test for some, which doesn’t work in today’s NBA anymore. (Don’t worry, this isn’t some sort of writer’s arrogance because there are writers who think playing a little ball in high school makes them more qualified… it doesn’t.)
Another one where the answer can be yes or no, it all depends on the right situation if you ask me. Phil Jackson and Michael Jordan have been bad executives so far despite their coach/player background. I agree that the guys who played at the highest levels should be coaching or in the front office, but like every other profession, not everyone is built to be a leader. So, if you have a person who started at the bottom and made it to the top, à la Erik Spoelstra, I would strongly consider giving that guy a chance over the former player. You have to remember that former players got to where they were because of their ego and pride. Two qualities you don’t want someone running your front office.
Depending on who was the star and the type of star they were. For example, Kobe Bryant wouldn’t fit as a head coach, but his mentality and know what it takes to win is a perfect fit in the front office. Not all former star players should get a shot at being in the front office because the front office is totally different from on the court. The front office is a game of chess while the court is a game of checkers. In the front office, you have to outsmart the opposing teams front office. You have to go through financial things, make the right draft picks, knowing which players will help you out or hurt the team. Not all stars have that capability to achieve in the front office.
3.) Do you find it odd that former players who would generally be labeled as former reserve/supporting cast quality guys, tend to succeed more as coaches and management than former superstars?
Actually, I don’t. Think about it, role/reserve players probably played on a few different teams during their career, those roles changed depending on the team they were on at a certain time. Plus, I feel like those guys labeled as “journeymen” always carried a chip on their shoulder, I think that played a huge role in why they ended up being successful in the league, and after. Look at Scott Brooks, for example, Steve Kerr as well. Those guys weren’t the best players, but they were some of the smartest. A cerebral approach is the best approach when making decisions that carry so much effect. You can’t let your emotions determine the fate of a franchise.
A little, but I think it could be dangerous to just assume that the role/reserve quality guys are better coaches because they fail at the next level too. There are plenty of guys that were solid players that don’t work out as head coaches. I can name Derek Fisher and Brian Shaw just off the top of my head. I think it’s just that there are so many more role players/reserve quality players in the NBA than stars (obviously), which means that there are more who go for those kind of jobs, so it just kinda feels like they succeed more often.
No, I don’t find it odd because the reserve players have more time to watch the game and know what’s working or not when they are on the bench. I feel like the reserve players are a better suit for the head coaching job and the Stars are a better fit for the front office. The reserve players been around the stars and know which players are stars. and which players are role players because they been around the best players. Every reserve player always had at least one star on their team.
4.) Given the absolute mess that are the New York Knicks, should teams start to reconsider making former coaches as the main decision makers of their franchises?
This a tough one…. I’m not on neither sides for this one. The problem in New York is a total mess, Phil Jackson is doing a bad job “right now”. The reason why I said “right now” because the Knicks are really on a rebuild/tank mode. I believe Phil Jackson knows what he’s doing and going to make New York a playoff team in 2–4 years. Phil made bad moves and he made good moves. Phil drafted Kristaps Porzingis while everybody thought he was a bad pick up, Porzingis was second in the rookie of the year voting last year. Bad move Phil did was hire Jeff Hornacek as the head coaching job. Like I said before, head coaching is different from being in the front office. Some head coaches in the NBA now was working in the front office. For example, Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich was all once a part of the front office and now both thriving well at the head coach position.
The Knicks just need to disappear from the league. Can you kick a team out and build a new team for the NBA? How does that work?
Now, this is where things get really interesting. I feel the same way about former players as I do former coaches. Look, Phil Jackson was an incredible coach. No one can really deny that. But to assume that he can properly fulfill the role of team President of Basketball Operations simply because he was a great coach, just feels like a very lazy evaluation. Especially when you should be thinking for a team’s future. We can’t just presume that just because Pat Riley did it in Miami, Phil can in NYK (or anywhere for that matter). It doesn’t matter how much better you may think Phil was as a coach over Pat. He’s shown countless times that he shouldn’t be team President. He’s been unprofessional. He should be gone.
5.) Let’s fast forward fifteen years, where do you see some of our modern superstars after their playing careers are finished?
LeBron will be the GM of the Cleveland Cavaliers trying to assemble 8 All-Stars on the same team and still ask for more help. Steph Curry is going to become the next Denzel Washington. James Harden will have the biggest endorsement in the history of the world from a beard maintenance company. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant will squash their beef and run for President and Vice President of the United States of America, Russy running for President, of course.
Kevin Durant will finally become a photographer for the NBA and NFL. LeBron James is going to owning a team or become a General Manager. I can see Carmelo Anthony being in a coaching position, possibly assistant coach. James Harden will join ESPN and become an NBA analyst for ESPN or TNT. I agree with you Pedro, Curry will be an actor.
To start, I think one of the league’s biggest names is already where he’s destined to be. That name being Chris Bosh. His career looks like it’s going to end on a really sad note (if it already hasn’t), which is really disappointing considering how well liked he is amongst literally everyone in the NBA. So I’m really glad he’s begun to make appearances with the Turner Broadcasting family, because he looks incredibly comfortable amongst other analysts.
I’ll do a rapid fire for a few more players real quick: Russ and Harden- fashion moguls, CP3- scouting/coaching/player development, KD- I honestly have now clue, PG13- somewhere fishing and DWade- fine wine concierge.
Then there’s LeBron.
I genuinely think LeBron will redefine what is to be a retired athlete, mainly because he’s already planning for his long-term future. I’m 100% certain that he’ll be an owner of Cavs and I think he’ll try to push himself to be as good, if not better than Magic Johnson, in terms of business; Michael Jordan, in terms of brand control; and the Rock, in terms of popularity amongst the general public. The craziest part; I’m not so certain he can’t accomplish all of those things. He’s already the most powerful athlete ever (as far as controlling his present and future), and there’s no set limit to what he can reach. My only question is if he’d ever be interested in the path of politics… that’d be interesting.