- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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After tweeting that he would remain silent if he didn't "have anything nice to say," Magic Johnson said what was on his mind anyway.
Johnson doesn't think Mike D'Antoni is the right coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and can't understand how the franchise passed on bringing back Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson.
And Johnson doesn't believe in Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss.
"I love Dr. (Jerry) Buss. I don't believe in Jim Buss," Johnson said on ESPN's "NBA Countdown" on Wednesday night. "He's made two critical mistakes already. To me, they made two critical mistakes.
"First, hiring Mike Brown -- he wasn't the right coach. He's a great coach but not the right coach for the Lakers. And I don't feel Mike D'Antoni is the right coach for the Lakers. Especially when you have Phil Jackson sitting out there, who wanted to be the Laker coach. Jim Buss decided he didn't want Phil Jackson, he wanted Mike D'Antoni. And that's OK, but why didn't you just say that? But the fans were cheering for Phil Jackson two nights in a row."
Asked by ESPNLosAngeles.com if he'd heard about Johnson's on-air comments, Jim Buss said, "But I believe in Magic as I always have."
Earlier in the day, Johnson tweeted that he was "mourning Phil Jackson not being hired as the Lakers head coach." The tweets marked Johnson's first public comments on the Lakers' coaching situation since the weekend.
"The reason I haven't tweeted in 2 days is because I've been mourning Phil Jackson not being hired as the Lakers head coach," Johnson tweeted Wednesday morning. "My mother always taught me that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said Monday that hiring D'Antoni was a unanimous decision amongst himself, Jerry Buss and Jim Buss.
The Lakers simply felt D'Antoni was a better fit for their current roster than Jackson, who would need time to install his Triangle offense with a group of players who has so far struggled to grasp the similarly complicated Princeton offense.
"Without going into great detail, some of our guys, I don't think would be very successful in the Triangle," Kupchak said Tuesday. "Some of our newer players might take a long time to learn the Triangle."
Johnson seemed to accept the decision Thursday as D'Antoni was introduced at a news conference.
"The decision's been made that D'Antoni is the coach so we must support him. I appreciate him reaching out to me & look forward to speaking," he tweeted.
Bryant understand that "everybody has an opinion."
"His opinion is valued greater than most others because of what he's done here with this franchise," he said after Lakers practice Thursday, D'Antoni's first day with the team. "I can only speak from my perspective and my dealings with Jim and he's been phenomenal. He's seemingly made all the right choices. If he had gone back in time, I'm sure he would have called me and consulted me on the Mike Brown hiring, but that is what it is. Other than that, he's been behind some pretty good moves, some pretty good trades for this organization."
This isn't the first time Johnson has publicly called out the younger Buss. Last season, after Kobe Bryant had publicly called on management to either trade Pau Gasol or assure him that he would not be traded, Johnson said on a conference call that Jim Buss needed to sit down and meet with his star player.
"I think what has to probably happen is sit Kobe down (and) Jim, sit him down," Johnson said at the time. "Say, 'Hey, Dr. Buss was the master at taking you to lunch or taking you to dinner and really going over what he thought about, or what he was thinking and what he wanted to do with the team and Jerry West was great at that as well.' Kobe, Mitch and Jim just got to get on the same page and it will be OK."
Soon afterward, Buss and Bryant met and began developing a closer relationship.
Bryant said Tuesday that he and Jim Buss had consulted before the Lakers began their coaching search. D'Antoni had been his first choice until Jim Buss suggested Jackson, and he learned that Jackson was open to the idea of returning.
Bryant told Buss he "loved them both" and has since said he's thrilled to have D'Antoni as his new coach.
5mMarc Stein and Tim MacMahon
1hMarc Stein and Calvin Watkins