Magic Johnson may have unceremoniously resigned from his job with the Los Angeles Lakers just last season but it’s clear he still bleeds purple and gold. He’s active about talking Lakers basketball and even tried to help with the Kawhi Leonard recruitment process last offseason. Johnson knows a thing or two about leading a team to a championship and it doesn’t sound like he believes that Leonard is the type of player who can do it on his own.
Johnson recently revealed some strong thoughts about Leonard and the Clippers.
“Well, I think the Clippers – listen, I think what’s missing with the Clippers – they just don’t have a leader,” Johnson said on ESPN’s First Take. And see, a superstar can be a superstar, so Kawhi is a superstar and he plays both ends of the court. Paul George I think is a star and he could be a superstar. But you need somebody to lead the team. See, LeBron James is both. He’s the best player in the world but he’s also the best leader in the world. So I think that’s what’s missing with the Clippers and the fact that, you know, they talked all season on how they wanted the Lakers, and they had an opportunity but they came up short.”
Johnson may not have meant it as a shot at Leonard but saying he isn’t a leader is definitely a criticism of the star. Leonard is one of the best basketball players in the world but he’s far from being one of the NBA’s best leaders and that showed during this previous season.
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Clippers Fell Apart in Bubble
All season long, the Clippers were considered to be the favorites to win the championship. They just kept accumulating talent and many thought that they had a better overall roster than the Lakers. Whether that was true or not didn’t really matter as the Clippers had terrible chemistry issues and couldn’t even get past the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs.
After they were bounced in the playoffs, reports circulated that things were getting heated for the team and Paul George was the subject of a lot of criticism. The locker room became so fractured that Doc Rivers was let go as head coach. As Johnson said, the Clippers lacked a leader and it showed in the bubble. Say what you want about LeBron James but he would’ve made sure his team didn’t have a colossal meltdown early in the playoffs.
Will Clippers Improve Next Season?
Even if the Clippers are able to retain most of the talent they’ve accumulated, they probably won’t be as good as the Lakers this season. They really need a Tyronn Lue to come in be get the team in order. There’s a leadership void for the team and someone needs to fill it.
Leonard isn’t that guy and never will be. He’s the best player on the team but they need someone who can lead. If they don’t find that, it’s very possible they run into a lot of the same issues this season.