Earvin Johnson was critical of Kobe Bryant’s on-again/off-again trade demands during TNT’s coverage of the Rockets/Lakers season opener Wednesday night, and the LA Times’ Mike Bresnahan helpfully reminds us of Magic’s track record
as a coach killer launching Pat Riley’s coaching career.
Johnson (above) has some experience in this area. He asked to be traded in November 1981. Almost the entire Lakers team had revolted against then-coach Paul Westhead when Johnson said, “I’ve got to go. . . . I haven’t been happy all season. . . . I’m going to talk to the man tomorrow and see if a trade will happen.”
That “man” was Buss. Westhead was fired the next day.
Johnson, like Bryant, wanted to go to Chicago or maybe even New York, but he found fault with Bryant’s desire to go to the Bulls. “Chicago is one of the first teams he said he’d want to be traded to, but what we have to understand, even if he does go to Chicago, he’s not going to be in a better situation because we’re going to take all their best players and he’s going to end up being in the same situation,” Johnson said. “Chicago with Kobe, with the guys they will have left after the Lakers take what they want, [is] not going to beat the other top teams in the East.”
It all comes back to Shaquille O’Neal, Johnson said, saying it was too bad Bryant and O’Neal couldn’t work together because having so much talent on one team was so rare.