Three-time league MVP Magic Johnson, now an ESPN analyst, once coached his way through 16 rather disastrous games for the Lakers at the end of the 1993-94 season. He was frustrated by an inability to impart his vision to less talented players.
"I stayed up all day and all night going over game plans and watching film, and I couldn't even sleep," Johnson said during a conference call last Wednesday. "I'm thinking about the changes that I want to make, all the different plays I want to run against the different teams, so I gained a lot more respect for coaches than I had before.
"Nick Van Exel was our point guard and I used to holler, 'He's open, he's open, he's open.' So by the third game in, Michael Cooper, my assistant coach, pulled me aside and said, 'Earvin, he can't see like you, so you've got to quit hollering that he's open, because you can see it but he can't see it.' And I kept saying, 'Why? He's open.'
"So I think that he's going to have to understand that guys are not going to be able to play like him, maybe be dedicated like he was or he can't expect everybody to be great like him, and so that will be his biggest challenge."
According to Wohl, that wasn't a problem for Rivers.
"Every coach has to deal with impatience to some degree," said Wohl. "There's inherent frustration built into being a player who becomes a coach. Jerry West used to talk about the same thing. But Doc had the resolve to move on and keep teaching.
"I don't see Jason as being emotional. Neither was Doc. He was a very even-keeled coach when he started out. He didn't let an official's call bother him for the next five minutes.
"Doc probably broke new ground to some degree, but that doesn't mean it's not a good idea now. I find it interesting that they are ex-point guards. That's the only position on the floor where you are responsible for other people. Doc had Dominique (Wilkins with the Hawks). Jason has had his guys. They're both used to seeing the greater picture."
MAGIC ENVISIONS NEW NO. 1 IN HIS POWER RANKINGS
Tim Duncan, true to his taciturn self, has crept up on LeBron James' parade with almost no fanfare. Even the Spurs center's coach, Gregg Popovich, has garnered more attention in this NBA Finals series. But should Duncan win his fifth championship ring this month, Magic Johnson plans to move him ahead of a former Celtics great in his personal power forward rankings.
"With a fifth (title)," Johnson said, "he's the best power forward that's ever played in my book because he passes (Kevin) McHale. . . . His legacy will enhance and increase. We've already got him in the Top 10. You can slide him up there anywhere you want to put him, because it's not just how -- it's not just him winning five, but it's how he won five. It's the way he played the game, how he approached the game.
"And you know, I told him the other day, I said, 'You know, you're one of my favorite players of all time because it's always been about winning and about the team,' " Johnson said. "And you know me, I'm the same way, so that's why I love Tim Duncan. With this fifth one, he dominates his generation. He and Kobe (Bryant) would be the greatest winners during this time. And domination wise, he'll be just as dominant as any big man that's ever played, and also be a great winner as well. So it would just increase. He's made his teammates better, too. That's what I like about him. He's in that Bill Russell mold in terms of making their teammates better -- doing all the little things. If you want to compare him, he's like a Bill Russell in terms of just the sense of being so smart."
Johnson is like a lot of NBA fans who yearn for a less self-centered time in the league's history.
"We are all so happy that we have a guy like Tim Duncan, especially in this generation where everything is about me, me, me and about I, and he's about we and he's about the team," he said. "He's not about making sure he gets on 'SportsCenter,' you know. I think that all he does is be a professional. He's first class and he wins. That's all he does is win."
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