Magic Johnson has done what we all do — we remember ourselves as better and more noble than we really were. We rewrite our personal histories to fit those better selves.
Remember how Magic Johnson agreed with Michael Jordan? How he said the two would never have teamed up with other superstars because they were so competitive? “We didn’t think about it ’cause that’s not what we were about,” was Magic’s quote.
Over at TrueHoop in a fantastic post, one reader called Magic out on that, referencing a 1991 interview in the Los Angeles Times where Magic recalls how he came out of college and to the Lakers.
Magic Johnson would have returned to Michigan State rather than play for the Chicago Bulls.
“I’d have stayed in school,” he said here Tuesday, standing alone outside Gate 3 1/2 of Chicago Stadium, the house that could have been his. “A coin toss changed the course of my whole life.” Chicago called heads in a 1979 coin flip with Los Angeles for the No. 1 pick in the NBA college draft. It came up tails.
Johnson signed with the Lakers after his sophomore year of college and proceeded to win five championships. The Bulls picked second, took UCLA’s David Greenwood and have won no championships.
“I wouldn’t have played here,” Johnson said on the eve of Game 2 of the NBA finals between his team and the team that could have been his. “The only reason I came out was to play with Kareem and the Lakers.”
Magic didn’t have to go looking for good running mates, because he came onto a loaded team. He helped put them over the top — his Game 6 of the 1980 finals is legendary — but that was Kareem’s team. The Lakers only got the top pick via a lopsided trade, they had won 47 games the year before and made it to the second round of the playoffs.
Magic is fiercely competitive, he wanted to win. But no, he never teamed up with other free agents to forma superteam. He didn’t have to — he did it coming out of college.
In the NBA, elite players have the leverage. It is just simple supply and demand.
DeMarcus Cousins is an elite player — and a favorite of owner Vivek Ranadive. He is not going anywhere.
Which made this summer’s “George Karl wants trade Cousins” a battle the coach couldn’t ultimately win — the owner wasn’t going to sign off on it, and the fans are going to side with Boogie. Remember Karl said he never had a player that was untradable, and that spiraled into reports Karl probed trade options with other teams, much to the frustration of management and Cousins himself.
Karl owned up to some of his mistakes in an interview on Comcast Bay Area, as reported by James Ham at CSNBayArea.com.
“To be honest with you, I apologized to DeMarcus for making the trade comment that I’ve never coached a player that’s untradeable,” Karl told Christensen. “That was wrong for me to say, because you all (the media) took it and blew it up into crazy.”
“But it’s my responsibility to be smart enough to not say things like that,” Karl continued. “So I did apologize because I thought that was the only thing, maybe some other things, but really the only thing that got us separated was that comment that then everybody wrote the we’re going to trade [Cousins].”
The relationship between Cousins and Karl — not to mention Rajon Rondo and other veterans — is the biggest key to the Kings’ season. Karl and Cousins say their relationship is solid now, but what happens when that is put under stress at some point during the season?
In talking to people around the team, the Kings players seemed to have formed a tight bond — even if part of the glue of that bond is a distrust of Karl that can work for them. This is a team that has the talent to compete for the bottom couple playoff seeds in the Western Conference, but everybody needs to be pulling on the rope in the same direction. We will see pretty quickly if the Kings can do that.
I’m a fan of the Pistons’ alternate uniforms in general — their “Motor City” ones may be may favorite alternates around the league.
Now they have a new one — Detroit Chrome.
The Pistons will break these out for seven home games this season. From the official release:
The inspiration for the Detroit Chrome jerseys came about as a way to honor our coolest cars from the past and the cars of the future. Detroit is universally known as the auto capital of the world, where chrome leaves an indelible mark on the cars we create. The uniforms feature a matte chrome base color with clean simple lines inspired by the classic muscle cars that have roared up and down Woodward Avenue for decades. The navy trim and Detroit emblazoned across the chest represent the blue collar work ethic that the auto industry and region was built on.
Clean, simple, cool — I like it.
That would look good in the first round of the playoffs, too. (I’m predicting they get the eight seed.)