Tag:Magic Johnson
Posted on: June 2, 2011 7:50 pm

Magic: Michael Jordan better than LeBron James

Magic Johnson says that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Posted by Ben Golliver. magic-michael

Nobody knows exactly why, but former Chicago Bulls forward Scottie Pippen decided to state publicly last week that Miami Heat forward LeBron James "may be the greatest player to ever play the game."

Of course, that comment was taken by virtually everyone as a snub on legendary Bulls guard Michael Jordan, and rightfully so. 

On Wednesday, Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson, one of the league's all-time greatest players, became the latest to take sides against Pippen's statement publicly. 

"I have tried not to comment on what Scottie Pippen said," Johnson wrote in a message on Twitter. "But Michael is the greatest ever - point blank."
Johnson's voice gets added to a chorus of those disagreeing with Pippen, as the response to his comments came fast and strong.

Former Bulls forward Horace Grant, teammate of Jordan and Pippen, came to Jordan's defense, saying that he "totally disagree[d]" with Pippen and that Jordan was "the best basketball player to ever play the game."

Former Detroit Pistons guard Isiah Thomas jumped into the mix too, stating that James has a chance of eclipsing Jordan but that he isn't there yet.

James himself said that he had "a long way" to go to be mentioned among basketball's greats. 
Look there is no debate here. Jordan is the greatest of all time.

But Johnson's words do carry a special weight, though, because his prime predates Jordan's prime. In the zoomed-out narrative of the NBA, the Larry Bird / Magic Johnson era gives way to the Michael Jordan era. Yes, Jordan and Johnson were colleagues -- the Bulls beat the Lakers in the 1991 Finals, of course -- but Johnson is inarguably Jordan's elder from a historical standpoint. 

Whenever these debates come up, players invariably favor their idols or the guys that came before them. If not that, then they favor their fiercest competitors or the players whom they could never defeat. Rarely do they favor the players that came after them. It's a difficult mental proposition for someone that stood atop the game to reconcile the idea that someone younger than him could be better.

But that's the power of Jordan's greatness. It doesn't matter if you played before him, against him, after him or all of the above. He was the greatest that you ever saw, at least if you're thinking straight and remembering things accurately. Who knows what Pippen's excuse is.
Posted on: June 1, 2011 8:55 pm
Edited on: June 1, 2011 9:12 pm

Lakers to retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey

The Los Angeles Lakers will reportedly retire center Shaquille O'Neal's jersey. Posted by Ben Golliver. shaquille-oneal

Throughout Wednesday, tributes to Shaquille O'Neal have poured in from the likes of NBA commissioner David Stern after the center announced his retirement on Twitter.

The Los Angeles Lakers will honor O'Neal in the most visible way possible: by retiring his No. 34 jersey.

ESPNLA.com reports that a Lakers spokesperson has committed to retiring O'Neal's jersey but does not yet have a timeline in mind.
"We don't have any specific timetable on this, but you can be assured we will retire Shaq's jersey," said Lakers spokesman John Black in an email on Wednesday.

"We don't have a specific policy on it," Black wrote. "As you know, players have to wait five years to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, but we could possibly do a jersey retirement ceremony for Shaq prior to that."
O'Neal paired with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant to win three titles for the franchise. His time with the Lakers is generally regarded as the high point of his career, making the jersey retirement decision a no-brainer.

Earlier Wednesday, Lakers owner Jerry Buss recognized O'Neal for that accomplishment in a press release.

"Shaq had a long and amazing career," Buss said. "A huge impact both on and off the court.  His contributions were significant to the entire NBA, but we specifically appreciate what he did with and what he meant to the Lakers during his eight years with us. We have three championships that we wouldn’t have won without him, and we will forever be grateful for his significant contributions to those teams."

It will be interesting to see which -- if any -- of the other teams that O'Neal played for will follow suit. Orlando, where he began his career, would seem to be a no-brainer. Despite the heartbreak of leaving the city for the Lakers, he was the face of the franchise and guided the Magic to the NBA Finals. Miami is another possibility. O'Neal teamed with guard Dwyane Wade to help the Heat win the 2006 title. His other stops -- Phoenix, Cleveland and Boston -- will probably pass.

The Lakers have only retired the jerseys of seven players to date. All seven have been selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The full list: 
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar -- No. 33
  • Elgin Baylor -- No. 22
  • Wilt Chamberlain -- No. 13 
  • Gail Goodrich -- No. 25
  • Magic Johnson -- No. 32
  • Jerry West -- No. 44
  • James Worthy -- No. 42
Posted on: May 18, 2011 3:42 pm
Edited on: May 18, 2011 7:37 pm

Hey Lakers, Kareem would like a statue now

Posted by Royce Young

I was in Los Angeles for Jerry West's statue unveiling and it was quite the scene. A ton of former legends all gathered into a spot to honor one of the all-time great Lakers. It was two hours of pretty much talking about how great Jerry West was.

I'm sure it was pretty nice.

And Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, would like that moment too. Via the Sporting News, Kareem is feeling overlooked.

"I don't understand (it)," he said. "It's either an oversight or they're taking me for granted. I'm not going to try to read people's minds, but it doesn't make me happy. It's definitely a slight. I feel slighted."
I can't imagine it being either because how can you overlook him or take him for granted. Let's recap here: Again, the all-time leading scorer, a 19-time All-Star (!), six-time champion (five with the Lakers), three national titles at UCLA and he's widely considered one of the top five players of all time. How you could overlook or take that for granted is pretty incredible.

It's got to be a bigger issue like, "they just haven't gotten to it yet."

Kareem's also issued this statement through his business manager: "I am highly offended by the total lack of acknowledgement of my contribution to Laker success. I guess being the lynchpin for five world championships is not considered significant enough in terms of being part of Laker history."

Kareem's statue wouldn't take a brilliant creative mind to come up with though. Everyone knows his infamous skyhook pose. That would definitely look pretty sweet standing in bronze outside of the arena.

Currently, there are five statues outside of the Staples Center: Magic Johnson, Jerry West, legendary team announcer Chick Hearn, boxer Oscar De La Hoya and hockey great Wayne Gretzky.

Lakers spokesman John Black gave a response: "We've been at Staples Center 11 years and have two ex-players who have statues now. It's not like we do it every year; we have no timetable. Whenever we do the next statue of the third Los Angeles Lakers player, it (will be) Kareem---and he has been told that. Again, we didn't say when that was going to be. It could be next year, the year after or several years from now."

See, that's what I'm saying. I don't think it's so much an oversight as it's just that they picked Magic Johnson and Jerry West first to do. Kareem can be offended by that, but that's kind of hard to argue with.

Kareem added to things, tweeting this: "Rumor has it that I will be getting a statue. A caveat for all my fans-don't hold your breath. Lakers don't care about me." Lakers don't care about you? Yeesh.

It seems like Kareem's outrage might put the Lakers in an awkward position now. Like since he complained about it and got his way, are other players going to? What about Shaq, does he deserve one? James Worthy? Eddie Jones (kidding).

Now if they give Kobe a statue before Kareem, then he'll really have a point.
Posted on: May 1, 2011 8:00 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2011 8:22 pm

Heat F James Jones delivers big against Celtics

Miami Heat forward James Jones came up huge in Game 1 against the Boston Celtics. Posted by Ben Golliver. james-jones-happy

It's not often that a player who averages 5.9 points per game off the bench finds his way into the headlines following his team's biggest game of the season. But that's life on Sunday for Miami Heat forward James Jones.

The Heat defeated the Boston Celtics 99-90 to take Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. It was a major win from a momentum and confidence-building standpoint, as the Heat struggled mightily during the regular season against the Celtics. Afterwards, the post-game praise from two of the game's greats went to Jones' performance off the bench.

"J.J. probably had the best game of anybody," Heat forward LeBron James told the Associated Press on a night when Dwyane Wade scored 38 points. 

"James Jones' 25 points off the bench was key for the Miami Heat, as was their execution of the drive-and-kick offense," NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson added on Twitter.

Like his Heat team as a whole, Jones struggled against the Celtics during the regular season, scoring just 15 points combined in Miami's four games against Boston, shooting 4-for-12 from the field. In characteristic fashion, all 12 of Jones' attempts during the regular season were three-pointers, as his role as the weakside corner three-point specialist is clearly defined. His job is to make defenses pay for over-committing on James and Wade. Knock down the shots when they're open. but no freelancing, under any circumstances.

On Sunday, Jones played that part to a T, shooting 5-7 from deep on his way to 25 points, and exceeding the number of field goals made and points he registered in all four regular season games against the Celtics combined. Jones' 25 points were not only a season-high, they were also the most points the journeyman forward has scored since he hit 25 for the Phoenix Suns more than four years ago, on Jan. 7, 2007. The AFP notes that Jones' 25 points was a franchise record for points scored off the bench during a playoff game.

Jones also single-handedly outscored Boston's bench, 25-23. That was particularly huge, given that most analysts agree that Boston is the significantly deeper team in this series.

His Game 1 shot chart is beautiful and it comes with no surprises. All seven of James' attempts came from deep, meaning Jones has now taken 19 three-pointers and zero two-pointers against the Celtics in five games this season. This chart simply reinforces the idea that there is something to be said for singular brilliance. it doesn't take an all-around game to be a game-changer in the playoffs.

Take a look.

Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:33 am

Magic vs. Bird coming to Broadway

Play about Larry Bird-Magic Johnson rivalry set to hit the stage in 2012. 
Posted by Matt Moore

The Larry Bird vs. Magic Johnson rivalry is arguably the greatest in all of basketball. It defined not only its era, but set the bar for all subsequent grudge matches between players in their prime. Celtics-Lakers has always been a rivalry. But Magic v. Bird took it to the entirely next level we see today, and even Kevin Garnett's spittle or Kobe Bryant's jaw can't quite seem to reach that fevered pitch. So it's only natural for the rivalry to have been dissected and showcased as it has, in several books, a documentary, and countless television debates. But now we get something a little bit... different. 

The playwright and producers for Lombardi, the on-stage production about the famous Packers coach have turned their eyes upon Magic vs. Bird, and in cooperation with the NBA will be producing a play based on the battle between Larry Legend and the Magic man. Production is scheduled for a 2012 debut, and both Bird and Johnson will be working with the creative team during the process. 

Johnson's life won't be difficult to inflate to on-screen proportions. Johnson is an over-the-top personality who was beloved by nearly everyone he met and who the media gravitated towards. He had the flashy smile, was the life of the party, and changed the way we look at point guards forever. Bird, on the other hand, is a bit like Chigurh from "No Country For Old Men," a mostly-silent, emotionally-strained and cold-blooded player who generally didn't like the attention brought on by the media. But then, that juxtaposition, combined with both Bird's country roots and the close friendship that formed between the two should make for some decent material. The fact that their rivalry started in college and followed throughout their careers gives quite a bit of a plotline here as well. 

If we're going down this road, can we make a few other suggestions for some on-screen adaptations?

Half-Cocked: The Life and Times of Gilbert Arenas.

180 Days on a Wire. The incredible true story of Carmelo Anthony's trade saga.  Better wait about ten years to produce this for when we want to hear about it again.

The Beard, the Boom, and the Hotcakes. Baron Davis and his lifelong love affair with pancakes. 

Cantankerous. Jerry Sloan's retrospective. Perhaps as a musical!

Cats. How Michael Jordan bought the Bobcats. Wait. May need a different title. 

The BRIs of Love. How the NBA and the player's union put their differences aside for love. Yet to be written.
Posted on: February 3, 2011 9:25 am
Edited on: February 4, 2011 12:31 am

Kobe Bryant has about had it with critics

Kobe Bryant says that Lakers critics can "kiss (his) (expletive)."
Posted by Matt Moore

Kobe Bryant is not exactly the guy you want mad at you. As a matter of fact, in the long line of people on this planet I would not want mad at me, it's pretty much Kobe, then Chuck Norris and my mom.  But some people may wind up on Bryant's bad list shortly.  Asked by reporters about the recent criticism from people like Jerry West and Magic Johnson after practice Wednesday, Bryant snapped at reporters, then decided to give his honest opinion for those who have recently complained about the Lakers' performances in big games this season. Lakers.com captured the interview on tape. Here's the juicy part at 2:40: 
"Q: ... Magic has said you guys needs to toughen up a little more. Is there unfair criticism on this team at this part of the season?

Kobe Bryant: Don't know, don't care. People that criticize can all kiss my (expletive). I don't give a (expletive). I really don't. I keep the train moving. We're going to keep on moving, and in June, they'll say nothing. But now, it's good talk."

So, yeah. Magic Johnson, Lakers legend, can kiss his backside. That's Kobe!

Bryan has a point here.  Selling criticism right now is easy in January, but this team has proven time and time again it can screw around in January through March and hoist the title in June. At the same time, people are interested in the NBA in January, the games the Lakers have lost have been big ones, and the team needs to throw its fans a bone and beat a good team at home. It's also just not cool to throw those kinds of words out at guys like Jerry West and Magic Johnson. Then again, Bryant's as good as any Laker in history, so he's got the cred to say such things. The fact remains this criticism won't end until the Lakers start beating "elite" teams at home.

Like, oh, say the Spurs, who they meet Thursday night. In the meantime, reporters, I'd shy away from bringing that criticism stuff to No. 24.
Posted on: February 1, 2011 5:36 pm
Edited on: February 1, 2011 5:39 pm

Justin Bieber to play in All-Star celebrity game

Pop star Justin Bieber will play in the NBA All-Star celebrity game. Posted by Ben Golliver. justin-bieber

Back in October, we noted that drawers-dropping pop singer Justin Bieber got the chance to hold Phil Jackson's NBA championship ring. Little did we know that this would be just the beginning of an influential year of hoops for Bieber.

As it turns out, the adolescent crooner will be headlining the 2011 NBA All-Star Celebrity game, according to the Associated Press.
The newest name to play Showtime: Justin Bieber. The 16-year-old pop singer will join Magic Johnson, WNBA hoopsters and stars from film, music and television Feb. 18 in the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at Staples Center in Los Angeles. 
Former NBA stars Scottie Pippen and Bill Walton, actors Ty Burrell and Jason Alexander and rapper Common will be among those also taking part.
NBA.com has posted the full list of participants.
  • ESPN Analyst Magic Johnson (NBA legend and Hall of Famer)
  • Grammy-nominated artist Justin Bieber (pop artist)
  • Scottie Pippen (NBA legend and Hall of Famer)
  • Bill Walton (NBA legend and Hall of Famer)
  • AC Green (NBA legend)
  • B.J. Armstrong (NBA legend)
  • Chris Mullin (ESPN Analyst and NBA legend)
  • Jalen Rose (ESPN Analyst and NBA legend)
  • Jimmy Kimmel ("Jimmy Kimmel Live!")
  • Ty Burrell ("Modern Family")
  • Rob Kardashian ("Keeping Up with the Kardashians")
  • Zach Levi ("Chuck")
  • Jason Alexander ("Curb Your Enthusiasm")
  • Common (Just Wright)
  • Bill Simmons (ESPN.com columnist)

The two GMs charged with selecting the teams will be late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and writer Bill Simmons, who already joked on Twitter, "Who gets Bieber?" Presumably, a draft-day trade involving cash and conditional future picks will be required to obtain the top overall pick and the right to obtain Bieber's basketball skillz.

Following typical blog format, this is the portion of the post where I am supposed to make a basketball-related pun based off of one of Bieber's song titles. Unfortunately, I don't know a single one of his songs and I don't want our IT guys to start wondering why I'm googling his name.

So we'll just wrap this up here.
Posted on: December 14, 2010 9:25 am
Edited on: December 14, 2010 11:26 am

Shootaround 12.14.10: Respect and disrespect

Magic says the Pistons are soft, Roy Hibbert has great hands, and Noah meets the Worm, all in today's Shootaround.
Posted by Matt Moore

  • So remember when the Pacers traded for Darren Collison and he was supposed to be their point guard of the future, taking them to the next level?  Well, they've gotten to the next level, suddenly in a position to contend for a playoff spot. But Collison has been left in the dirt, and can't quite figure out why . People who weren't blown away by Collison's numbers last season questioned his poise and defensive stature, and it would appear those same elements are what is keeping T.J. Ford and A.J. Price in heavy minutes. Who would have thought the Pacers would have a point guard overflow a year ago?
  • Roy Hibbert has turned into quite the passing big man because of his time spent this summer with Bill Walton.  8 Points, 9 Seconds breaks down what's helped him improve , and his confidence has been as important as his quick decision making. There's something to be said for simply going with your instincts instead of debating yourself into a bad posssession. It's that All-Around play that has to leave you wondering... is Hibbert an All-Star this season? One guy who doesn't think so? His coach .
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com