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Magic Johnson rips Mike Brown, says he wasn’t right from ‘Day One’

Nov 11, 2012, 7:21 PM EDT

Magic Johnson Getty Images

Magic Johnson didn’t have anything to do with the Lakers decision to fire Mike Brown just five games into the season.

But he’s certainly in agreement that it was the right move to make.

In an interview with Sam Amick of USA Today on Sunday, Johnson essentially ripped Brown’s performance as head coach, and said it should have been evident from Brown’s time in Cleveland that he was not the man for this job.

“That’s the reason why Mike is out, because the Lakers are about winning championships,” Johnson said. “They’re not about waiting. Some people have complained, and said different things – no, he didn’t get a fair shake. The Lakers don’t give people fair shakes. It’s not about fair shakes. It’s about whether you can produce or not. Other organizations, they have time and patience because they’re not about winning the championships.”

“We have to go back to history with Mike. Mike didn’t get it done in Cleveland. If he can’t get the championship done in Cleveland, having the game’s best player (LeBron James), how are you going to come to Los Angeles and win it. It’s just too bad.”

Johnson also went on to explain in detail how he had nothing to do with Brown’s dismissal, and that he’d have no problem saying otherwise if that was the case.

Perhaps the most damning comments from Johnson came as he described specifically why Brown wasn’t a fit — either in Cleveland or Los Angeles.

“Mike Brown has one big flaw in his coaching: he does not make adjustments in game. That’s what killed him in Cleveland, and that’s what killed him with the Lakers. If you go back to every series that the Cleveland Cavaliers lost, and every series that the Lakers lost, Mike Brown did not make adjustments within the game. That’s it. Let’s keep it real. If we’re going to be real, then let’s keep it real. That’s his biggest flaw. It’s not preparation. It’s not his defense, before the game and getting a game plan together. It’s within the game.”

Of course, this is nothing that Lakers or Cavaliers fans wouldn’t have told you about Brown’s coaching style. The difference, obviously, is that coming from Magic Johnson, those words actually mean something.

If other teams share Johnson’s perception of Brown, he won’t be getting back into the league as a head coach anytime soon. The Cleveland part might not be fair given that LeBron James was still growing into the player that we see before us today, and that his supporting cast left plenty to be desired.

Supporters of Brown will point to the lockout-shortened season and then just five games into this one as being not enough time to truly evaluate whether or not he could get it done. But the Lakers weren’t willing to wait, and Magic just echoed that sentiment.

  1. ihavenonickname - Nov 11, 2012 at 7:34 PM

    Like it says on my lucky pair of socks:
    “Young people want you to be real with them” – Magic Johnson

  2. fotydaze - Nov 11, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Well said Magic and so true. We don’t hang conference championship banners in staples…well maybe the clippers would.

  3. lakerluver - Nov 11, 2012 at 8:08 PM

    The LAKERS have reached a level where they count success not in a single championship but in multiple championships. Any team can win one (Dallas)…win every two decades (Boston)…or count titles “before” they actually win them (Miami). The LAKERS win 2-3 titles at a time. Looking forward to the introductory press conference tomorrow. Go LAKERS!!

    • passerby23 - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:20 AM

      I’m sorry, how many championships did the Lakers win the 90s? I’m pretty sure they went 13 years between championships. I get that the standard of excellence is higher for the Lakers (much like it is for the Yankees), but because they have won at least 2 in a row doesn’t mean that should be expected. Winning championships is hard.

    • zeedoubleyou - Nov 12, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      D’Antoni bomb!

  4. iamjimmyjack - Nov 11, 2012 at 8:12 PM

    That is why magic is magic. Laker fans will forever love the guy. What he says goes. Thank God he’s part owner of the Dodgers. There time is soon coming where championships are expected year after year.

  5. gpatrick15 - Nov 11, 2012 at 8:15 PM

    Magic knows a thing or 2 about coaches getting fired. Ask Paul Westhead.

    • uscthom78 - Nov 11, 2012 at 8:26 PM

      Magic knowsa thing or two about coaching. Actually no….he knows infinitely less about coaching than Brown

      • badintent - Nov 12, 2012 at 3:05 AM

        remember when Magic was a head coach, yeah, the cat calling the kettle black( or brown

      • 24thesho - Nov 12, 2012 at 6:47 AM

        Well, he knows about winning and bowed out from it when he realized how different it was to coach from the bench instead from on the floor. Coaching a team and being a great player while the coach on the fly; two totally different things. Brown can’t even carry Magic’s water.

    • eureca323 - Nov 11, 2012 at 8:34 PM

      True he was right in that situation as well he went on to win 4 more championships after that under Pat Riley.

  6. ebrownwareagle - Nov 11, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    Magic also know a Ring or 5 about winning Championships!!

  7. themagicfanguy - Nov 11, 2012 at 8:29 PM

    Yet… Even with all that success you mentioned, the lakers have less banners hanging than the C’s.
    Maybe they will catch up to the C’s at some point, but until they do you should stop acting like they’re the best ever. Simple fact of the matter is success is measured in championships, and in that category the lakers are currently in 2nd place. Accept it. Move on.

  8. lakerluver - Nov 11, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    Dude, come on, 13 of Boston’s titles were won before anyone of us on this site, not named paulhargis53, was even born! Most of their titles were won when tv was still in black & white and Chuck Taylor’s were the must have shoe! Before KG and Ray came riding in like the Calvary the C’s hadn’t won a title in over two DECADES. Boston was irrelevant from the day Bird retired until 2008. And after KG and Pierce both retire they will be irrelevant again. I didn’t want to go there but you forced me to.

    • passerby23 - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:24 AM

      I agree that winning so many championships in an era a long time ago does put an asterisk next to them, but they will be irrelevant when KG and Pierce retire? Silliness. A big market with that much tradition will almost certainly attract stars in the future to play there. Put a few pieces around Rondo with all the cap room they’ll have and they’re right back in the mix. Just like New York and Chicago will attract names, Boston will be fine when those guys retire.

    • 00maltliquor - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:48 AM

      HAA!! Tell’em LL! btw, where the heck were you the last couple days!? Good to have you back.

    • badintent - Nov 13, 2012 at 2:08 AM

      Lakers could never beat the Celtics till they got Wilt and West together. Plus Goodrich and some guy named Riley. Dave Cowens took the Celtics to the promised land too. Should we throw out the banner Lakers won in Minnie too ?? That was realllllllllllllllllllllllllllll old , eh ?

  9. rajbais - Nov 11, 2012 at 8:57 PM

    He was a bad hire, regardless. He already had an improving team When he arrived in Cleveland and was fired before Lebron became a free agent with a non-guaranteed Year of salary remaining.

    That’s why he’s a fraud. Plus, nobody heard or could remember about him being interviewed after his 2010 playoff series loss During that same off-season.

  10. daniel10017 - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:04 PM

    Magic should shut his mouth! He was an awesome player but he surely was a lousy head coach when he tried in the early 90’s with the Lakers

  11. drewsylvania - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    The spin fest continues.

    • bozosforall - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:30 PM

      Boton fans being the lamest spinners of them all.

  12. themagicfanguy - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:19 PM


    Just because a championship was won a long time ago that makes it invalid? I wasn’t aware.

    Seriously, so the Yankees World Series wins back in the day don’t count or something?
    I get what you’re saying, but facts are facts. The Celtics have more, at least for now. Therefore, the lakers are in 2nd.

    • bozosforall - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:29 PM

      Not for much longer, musty dusty boy.

  13. libertynchurch - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:32 PM

    No need to disrespect the Celtics Game because you dont know it! The Red Auebach Celtics established a style of play that is very relevant to todays game. Who do you think perfected the Fast Break and Moving Without The Ball?

    The BW TV coverage that you look down on was different
    than today, for sure. More wide angles, that showed ball movement and team play. Today’s game is all about TV close-ups and indivdual play. Different, to be sure, and everyone is entitled to their preference. No need to denigrate one because you prefer the other.

    Everyone enjoys the Lakers-vs-Celtics debates. Any Laker fan can find legitimate arguments in their favor. However, you lose credibility by dissing the old Celtics. Kinda shows that you dont know and love the Game as much as you say you do.

    • bozosforall - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:51 PM

      No one is disrespecting anyone’s “game”, little Puh C’s crybaby fan.

      • thesixersbench - Nov 12, 2012 at 4:29 PM

        Actually, that sounds exactly like what commenters are doing. Not that I’d expect quality analysis from blogger commenters, but…

  14. bozosforall - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    No one is disrespecting anyone’s “game”, little Puh C’s crybaby fan.

  15. libertynchurch - Nov 11, 2012 at 9:58 PM

    Philly fan who still thinks that Wilt is The GOAT. Hated the Celtics. Threw a shoe at the TV and almost broke it when Havlicek Stole The Ball.

    Not liking the Celtics is one thing. However, not acknowleding their role in the history of The Game is straight-up ignorant!

  16. lemfaxx - Nov 11, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    I thought he is a professional guy. No he retired.

  17. BigBeachBall - Nov 11, 2012 at 11:26 PM

    Somebody has to hold the coach’s clipboard while the Buss’s wrangle up some hall of famers… might as well be Mike Brown…

  18. daknight93 - Nov 11, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    I feel bad for Mike Brown, but magic is right..Lakers have a win now and instant success mindset and don’t have time for patience…the expectations is to win this year with the 4 all star players they have..Phil Jackson is the only coach that can give them success, not sure about a championship this year cause those all stars are old and not athletic except for Dwight..should be interesting who the next head coach will be, but Phil is thinking about returning..guess that some hope for Laker fans

  19. magicbucs - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    Haha @ lakerluvr you bi@tch! Finally show up after a couple wins or Were you in a coma?

  20. magicbucs - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:06 AM

    Magic shouldn’t be criticizing a coach. He was a terrible coach. I think mike brown lasted longer as a laker coach than magic did? Yea he was a great player and can say all he wants about players but don’t judge a coach if you yourself couldn’t do any better…. Didnt he have HIV? How come he looks healthier than most men his age?

    • uscthom78 - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:13 AM

      Actually, I would be more concerned with the health of his wife.

  21. lakerslegacy2432 - Nov 12, 2012 at 2:42 AM


  22. omniusprime - Nov 12, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    Magic knows how pathetic Clueless Clown Brown was as a coach. Too bad Magic didn’t have some input before the little idiot buss boy hired that worthless loser. Also too bad Magic didn’t have any input before the little idiot buss boy hired D’Antoni. I predict D’Antoni won’t last the season and he won’t guide the Lakers to a title. So sad that the little idiot buss boy has made such deplorable decisions regarding head coaches, I hope Dr. Jerry pulls the plug on his ignorant brat boy’s stupidity and brings back his beautiful, intelligent daughter Jeanie to run the show.

    We should have had Phil Jackson!!!

  23. trimaster1 - Nov 12, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    The Lakers won’t win it all this year regardlss who’s coaching. It’ll take time for them to gel as a unit. To elaborate further, I don’t see them winning a championship with this untit period.

    They’re about 2 years too late. Age is going to catch up to them…

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