Magic Johnson did not let LaVar Ball’s January criticism of Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton pass without consequence. He addressed the issues. Sort of. Indirectly. Or something.
From ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne:
According to sources close to the situation, Johnson called an associate of LaVar’s and strongly admonished him. Publicly, though, the Lakers said nothing.
“Look, we had lost nine in a row and you didn’t hear nothing from me, right? I was supporting Luke through all nine in a row,” Johnson says. “So now, LaVar comes out and says something, and everybody asks, ‘Why didn’t you say nothing?’
“I’m not gonna respond to people saying different things. [Walton] already had my vote of confidence. There’s never been a question about his job security here. But everybody else was trying to make a big deal out of it. I was good with Luke, I was good with Jeanie. So I said we should do nothing because if we react to this, now anytime somebody says something about the Lakers, we gotta react.
This makes more sense when looked at in its entirety.
Airing out grievances with a Big Baller Brand employee, rather than Big Ball No. 1 himself, doesn’t really count as being proactive. But if Johnson’s goal was to, ostensibly, not legitimize LaVar’s sentiments by ignoring them altogether, his approach tracks…kind of.
If you’re going the “silence equates to deemphasis” route, then commit to it fully. Don’t deliver your frustrations and annoyance via a third party. That’s not necessarily weaker or worse than publicly quashing LaVar’s anti-Walton takes, but it gives some semblance of credence to the slant itself. And Johnson, based on this excerpt, doesn’t want to do that. He doesn’t want to empower LaVar by taking his incendiary comments seriously.
And good for him. That’s a solid stance to take. He just needs to make sure he’s maintaining it in full.