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“I never wanted to coach. Dr. Buss said can you do this for me and when he hit me with that, then I said yeah, okay" - Magic Johnson opens up about coaching the Lakers in 1994

In hopes of recreating showtime, Dr. Jerry Buss hired Magic Johnson to coach the Lakers in 1994
Lakers head coach Magic Johnson on the sideline in 1993

Magic Johnson

When Magic Johnson first retired from basketball, it marked the end of the Showtime era in Los Angeles. After that, the Lakers, led by Dr. Jerry Buss at the helm, were eager to recreate another version of showtime, and one way he tried doing so was by hiring Johnson as head coach. So in 1994, Johnson suited up for the Lakers, but this time on the sidelines. 

A short and failed experiment

The only reason Johnson took the offer to be the Lakers' head coach was because couldn't say no to Buss, who he said was his second father and mentor throughout his playing career. During the '90s, the Lakers suffered a significant financial blow because they weren't winning games. So at that time, Buss thought that appointing Johnson as head coach would help revive the Lakers.

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"I never wanted to coach. Dr. Buss said can you do this for me and when he hit me with that, then I said yeah, okay," Johnson admitted in the latest episode of Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers documentary.

However, Johnson's tenure as a head coach wasn't as smooth as expected. The 5-time champion admitted he didn't have the temper to deal with players who didn't possess the same hustle and heart he did on the basketball court. Johnson was a stern head coach who demanded excellence from his players, but they couldn't thrive under his system and philosophies. That's when Johnson knew he wasn't meant to be a coach, so he left the job in the same year.

When Magic returned as a player

Four years after retirement, Johnson returned to the court in 1995, when he was cleared to play after contracting HIV. This was Buss' last attempt at recreating showtime in hopes that Magic would inspire the new generation of Lakers players to play the way his team did in the '80s.

In 1995, the Lakers were coached by Del Harris (Magic's replacement) and finished with a 53-29 record for 6th place in the league. They had their highs and lows while Johnson showed glimpses of his old self, but unfortunately, they couldn't triumph against their competition. The Lakers lost to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the Playoffs, thus sending Johnson back to retirement.

After Johnson's failed second stint as a player, Buss and the Lakers decided it was time to move on from their showtime era. So in 1996, they chased after Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, and the rest was history. 

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