To Johnson, Laker life losing its magic

December 25, 1990|By Roger Phillips | Roger Phillips,Knight-Ridder News Service

INGLEWOOD, CALIF — INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Responding to recent published criticism from general manager Jerry West, Los Angeles Lakers guard Magic Johnson said Sunday night that he was "disappointed" and questioned his long-term future with the team he has led for 12 years.

"I've been thinking more than I ever have before [about changing teams] in the last week," Johnson said before Sunday night's 118-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Great Western Forum. "I don't want to make any hasty decisions. I just want to sit back and think about a lot of things."

West was quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week as saying: "Magic is playing OK. He has his moments when he looks like the Magic of last season."

Implicit was that there are times when West feels Johnson's play has dropped. Johnson indicated that he has been annoyed, as well, by other comments by West that haven't been printed.

"I thought he was going to talk to me before he made the comment," Johnson said. "It's definitely disappointing. Man . . . first of all, it's disappointing to hear it, and second of all, I wish he could have come to me. I don't think that's fair. If I have something to say, I always go to him instead of the press."

Johnson said he has not spoken to West since the situation developed; West said he plans to meet with Johnson soon.

"I'll talk to him and let him know how positive my feelings are about him," said West, who confirmed his remark to the Plain Dealer. "We can't win without him, and he knows I feel that way. What we don't need now is internal strife. We need everyone working together.

"I've always had positive things to say about Earvin. He means so much to our franchise. But I suppose it's a time of the season when people can be touchy. I understand that."

Johnson is averaging 19.6 points and 13.5 assists while shooting a career-low 46.2 percent. Last season, when he was the NBA's Most Valuable Player for the second straight year, Johnson averaged 22.3 points and 11.5 assists and shot 48 percent.

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