To tank or not to tank? That is the question. Magic Johnson just let us know his answer. Tank. While his Lakers aren’t any good, telling professional athletes to basically lose games purposely seems blasphemous.
Magic Johnson was one of the ultimate competitors that has ever graced the court. He may be the second or third most competitive player the league has ever seen. If Worthy and Kareem would’ve gotten hurt, do you think Magic would’ve not tried in games or did what he could to lose in order to get his team a #1 pick? There is nothing about Magic’s DNA that tells us he would’ve done anything less than compete at his highest level and maybe even try harder to carry the Lakers through that particular season and still try to get to the playoffs, or just win any game that he could. Yet he suggests this for this year’s Laker squad.
“I hope the Lakers lose every game, because if you’re going to lose, lose. I’m serious. If you’re going to lose, you have to lose, because you can’t be in the middle of the pack. You either have to be great or you have to be bad, to get a good (draft) pick.”
As a competitor, next year shouldn’t matter. You aren’t promised next season. Half of the players on the Lakers roster won’t be there next season, so what do they care about their next draft pick? It makes you wonder what Laker’s coach Byron Scott thinks about Magic’s comments. Scott was a part of Magic’s Laker teams and he is another fierce competitor. Could you imagine Magic approaching Scott in the locker room back then, if the Lakers were having a rough season, and saying “Hey let’s just lose games. Maybe we can get Mitch Richmond in the draft.” Wasn’t going to happen.
Remember back in 1994 when Magic coached the Lakers to a 5-11 record. I’ve never seen a more frustrated coach. He wanted to win then even more then he did when he played. He had no interest in tanking games. This makes Magic’s comments seem even more out of bounds.
One thing about Magic’s comments does make sense in all this. The Lakers owe Phoenix a first round pick, which is top 5 protected – meaning that the Lakers will lose their first round pick unless they have the first through the fifth picks in the draft. So, if the Lakers finish bad they have a better chance at keeping their pick. The more games they win, the higher the chance that pick has of going to Phoenix for yes, Steve Nash.
Read more of Nick’s Writing at NBA Online Blog.