Earlier this week, a report suggested that LeBron James was mostly marching to the beat of his own drummer, ignoring Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton’s play calls by running “the plays he prefers” while on the court. According to Lakers team president Earvin “Magic” Johnson, that isn’t the case at all, as he built his team in such a way that James would be far from the only dominant ball-handler on the roster.
In a report published Wednesday, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst cited reports from scouts who had monitored the Lakers, writing that James “rarely looks toward the bench” to receive instructions from Walton whenever the coach uses him as a point guard. Windhorst added that James also tends to ignore Walton during the times when he gets to see the play calls, choosing instead to run the plays he is more comfortable with. Despite this, the report suggested Walton has learned to adjust to his superstar player’s alleged quirks, and now allows James to call the game and take control of the offense.
In an appearance Thursday on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Magic Johnson disputed the report, suggesting that Windhorst “got it wrong” and stressing that the Los Angeles Lakers’ offense is not designed to revolve exclusively around LeBron James.
“We have a system that the ball moves around, a lot of pick-and-roll plays,” Johnson said, as quoted by Yahoo Sports.
“If you watch us play, the ball is not in LeBron James’ hands all of the time. It can’t be, because you want to pass it around, you want to get into your pick-and-roll plays.”
Johnson concluded his piece on the ESPN report by saying that it was expected, as the Lakers’ status as one of the NBA’s highest-profile teams means “people are going to be talking about us.”
As noted by Lakers Nation, this isn’t the first time in the 2018-19 season that Johnson made public comments to downplay rumors of turmoil within the organization. Earlier this month, reports suggested that the Lakers legend had a meeting with Walton where he allegedly “admonished” the head coach over the team’s slow start. However, CBS Sports noted that Johnson confirmed the rumored meeting, but dismissed rumors about Walton’s job security, stressing that he plans to keep him around as head coach until the end of the season.
Currently, the Los Angeles Lakers have a 12-9 record and are seventh place in the Western Conference. Per Basketball-Reference, LeBron James is leading the Lakers in four statistical categories, with averages of 28.1 points, eight rebounds, 6.7 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.