In this city, Magic Johnson was once so beloved that just the mere mention of his name on a charity event guest list induced a round of security talks so the event wouldn’t dissolve into chaos once Johnson entered the room. Magic was the Lakers and he was Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant was fetishized in the same city, but Magic was loved, and the difference is in the objectification. One was idealized as an unattainable example while the other was idolized as perfect. But now it has all gone to a dark place and Magic isn’t what everyone thought. It is a sobering message. Be careful who you give your allegiance to.
Unnerved, undone, wounded psyche in hand, Magic Johnson was unbecoming in his pathological need to have the last word. He was efficiently venomous as a jab boxer. He got in some good sucker punch licks and that’s, I suppose, the good news for the sycophants of Johnson. The lingering residue is that his reputation, as someone who adores the Lakers, has been destroyed.
He intentionally ruined what he considered his second family, and in carrying out his mission, he went too far. Because he tabled loyalty in order to appease his ego, he will never be viewed the same.
The Johnson critiques of Rob Pelinka were standard corporate fair. If you have ever worked in an office, which Magic never has, then you understand what corporate politics is all about. You are the recipient of the usual jealousy, whispers, gossipy nature of those you work with.
This is how it usually evolves. You find out the chick sitting next to you in the cubicle who is always on the phone is saying some things about you to the supervisor. So you go to HR. HR then brings both of you in to hash it out because teamwork is important in a work environment. It is too expensive to bring in a new hire. You learn to work together.
If Magic was such a great leader, then why didn’t he just confront Rob with- dude I hear you saying I’m not in the office enough. Well this is what my not in the office is bringing to the table. Why couldn’t Magic discuss it man to man? We call it adulting.
What Magic did was act like my toddler who makes a scene when he doesn’t get what he wants, First, his lips curl up and he pouts. He has been known to throw something across the room, usually himself. Magic pouted, then threw a lot of flaming knives across the room and when that didn’t kill the target, he then burned the house down.
By shaming the current General Manager of the Lakers one month before free agency is set to start, Magic effectively and purposefully made sure that Pelinka would always be at a disadvantage whenever he walked into a room trying to convince someone to sign with the Lakers. Magic created a narrative for Pelinka that people who don’t know him, and count most people in that category, will believe because it is Magic doing the sermonizing. Magic also jammed up his supposed sister by creating a perception of her that is needy, weak and incapable of making decisions without input of a horde. In the process, he managed to make the Lakers look even more broken, spineless and parasitic than they did when he quit on them in a theatrical horror show.
His revenge was probably sweet (to him) as he got even. But revenge is drinking the poison you give to someone else. Karma is a motherf_______.
It’s hard to reconcile the Magic Johnson of the baby sky hook, or the Magic Johnson who leaped into Kareem’s arms in game one of his NBA career, or even the shocked Magic Johnson announcing he was HIV positive, with this reiteration of a vindictive man who wants to torch those who he thinks burned him at the stake.
Human flaws being what they are, it often is the case that way down the line an idol does something that reminds you he is a man you do not know, don’t particularly like, and is not who he was on the court when he first gained your trust and adoration. He is human, flawed, bitter and lacks accountability. You then have to bury that idol thing because you realize sports, in many ways, is fantasy. People are not who they appear to be.