COACH MAGIC JOHNSON Back in 1994, Magic Johnson took over as the head coach for the struggling Lakers

COACH MAGIC JOHNSON Back in 1994, Magic Johnson took over as the head coach for the struggling Lakers

It has been 26 years since Magic Johnson took over as the head coach for the 1993-94 Lakers.

With the Lakers postseason questionable for the first time in 18 years, and with only 18 games left on the 1993-94 season schedule, GM Jerry West had to shake the 1993-94 team’s doubtful chemistry.

The team coached by Randy Pfund was not performing as well as West thought it could. So, with the Lakers standing on a 28-38 record, Pfund was fired, and the Lakers got a new head coach – Earvin’ Magic’ Johnson – an NBA legend who needs no introduction!

There was massive excitement in the air as GM Jerry West introduced the Lakers’ legend as the new head coach who would replace Pfund on the sidelines for the struggling franchise.

“Welcome back an old friend of ours, and we certainly really want to wish him the best. We will all be trying to do our best to help him become a success of a coach as he was as a player.”

Jerry West

“I am happy to be back. I am looking forward for the challenge because basically, that’s what it is – a new challenge.”

Magic Johnson

With the Lakers posting a considerable fall in season attendance, it seemed that Magic’s comeback could also help spark the franchise’s turnaround in that segment as well. Eventually, the Lakers closed down the 1993-94 season ranked 21st out of the total of 27 NBA teams in that critical business segment.

The legend’s comeback, even as head coach, sparked a wave of reactions nationwide. Johnson opened his tenure on March 27th, 1994, with a 111-101 W over the Milwaukee Bucks coached by the L.A. Lakers 1990-1992 head coach, Mike Dunleavy.  

Throughout the first six games with Magic as head coach, the Lakers posted a respectable 5-1 record, with the only loss coming against the Sonics in Seattle on March 31st, 1994.

With his old buddy James Worthy leading a ‘new wave’ version of Showtime in an O.T. thriller W vs. the Kings, it seemed that things were moving in the right direction for the Lakers.

But, with the promise of the postseason just around the corner for the Lakers, all of a sudden, the team lost the next ten games, thus missing out on making it to the ‘promised land’ for the first time in 18 years! 

Although he didn’t succeed in his mission of salvaging the Lakers’ postseason chances in 1994, Magic did, however, get an in-depth insight into the team’s overall potential and perspectives.

That insight proved invaluable for Magic’s decision to return as a player for the 1995/96 Los Angeles Lakers.