Paul West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul discussed on Westward



Navigating the team's personalities prove difficult. But what troubled bald west head most was not whether the Lake a team was Magic Johnson's or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's. But that the liquor team wasn't his. Because for two years, coach Paul west head had kept a secret. It was a revolutionary offensive scheme that he had created while coaching during his off seasons at LaSalle. He called it the system. When I was at LaSalle in the summers that I would go down and coaching Puerto Rico. And the way they played. I mean, they played fast. They wanted to shoot fast and my eyes popped out. I said, oh my gosh, I was thinking about this. And one of the things I learned, you're going to be a fast break coach, don't have a lot of plays. In fact, don't have any place. The more plays you put in, the slower your team goes. So there's a kind of direct proportion to that. And fortunately, coaches think that the bigger their playbook, the better they are, the more competent they are. And that may be true, but if you want to run the system, you better have a one sheet of paper playbook. And that's what you do. Westhead had never fully implemented his system in college, because both established coaches and players were reluctant to embrace it. When I first tried to put it in, a coach at old dominion university sunny Allen, who was a fast break coach and he did say to me, and if you're going to do this, you got to be a little crazy because you're going to get left at. Nobody really wanted to run fast and play like this. They all wanted to follow the ritual of grinding it out. And to be honest with you, it was still going on today. But after the team's difficult second year, Paul west had made the decision that would define a brand of basketball that would become the most heralded in NBA history. The start of my third year, we had training camp in Palm Springs at COD, which is a college of the desert, and I made the decision, you know, established head coach and now into my third year, I said, I have to do something to give us a boost and move into the championship level again. So I put the break in and I do remember and I talk about this in my book, the speed game. At the end, I figured, well, let me really show them we're going to be a running team. So we ran lines at the end of practice up and down, up and down, up and down, which a lot of high score college teams do. So we did it a series on about a ten or 12. And the players are staggering to the locker room and in Korean comes over, puts his arm around me and he says, Paul. I don't do lines. He walked away. So I learned it a number of things from that a, he didn't call me coach. He called me Paul. Which, from what I hear, the only person he ever called coach was John Wooden. That's fair. Two, he was being honest enough with me to say, and if you continue to do this, we could have a problem. And I surely didn't want to have a problem with Kareem. So I went back and reflected and I said, well, I'm never going to run lines again. So we didn't. If you think that Magic Johnson and the Lakers may have taken to west heads fast brake system as a natural fit. You would be wrong. After a two or three or four days, there was resistance among the players. They didn't like it. They objected to kind of on their side to their credit. It was something that they were unfamiliar with. And it was hard. On my side, I was trying to convince them if you just work harder, it'll get easy. And it's like a lot of things. You have to push, push, push, push, and then you're on the other side of it, and then it flows. Unfortunately, while Paul west head was their coach, his liquor players would never get to see the flow. They only saw the heart, so we start to season and we didn't start out real well. Unfortunately, we lost our opener to Houston, the team that knocked us out the year before in the playoffs of all teams to lose to. And then, you know, I lasted whatever 15 games. Because more important than losing games, hold west head had lost his star point guard. Magic Johnson. It started out terrific, you know, I was there literally parts of three seasons with magic. And it didn't have a bunch of problems with him. I think people suspected that the way it went down, that it just was one more problem with Paul westhead and Magic Johnson. That would not have been accurate. He was all about winning. He was all about his team, especially but in his rookie year, he was really like a power forward. He was getting everybody's rebound. He was doing all the dirty work. And that's why the players liked him because he was giving himself up for his team. It didn't end well because I had an incident in Salt Lake City with him and my third season and I didn't like the way he was not paying attention at a time out. At the end of the game and we would have lost that game had the Utah Jazz player made the basket. So it wasn't like it was good defense. They just missed. So after the game, I brought him into another part of the locker room without the players around. I tried to give him the courtesy to not say anything in front of the players. And I said, this can not continue magic. You can not be distracted during these crucial times when I'm talking. And he just looked at me and walked away. The next day, Jerry bus put me in his office and fired me. So you could easily say, after the magic incident, I got fired. Therefore, magic was the problem. But I think it was deeper than that. The Lakers were almost looking for a reason to fire me. So magic was the tipping point. I don't think magic treated Weston very well. I think magic undermined him. I think he wasn't very direct with him. He was a kid. One thing that's really interesting. That's going to say is if you look at the NBA now, what happened then wouldn't be unusual now? Like that, that was the first time I can remember a player exercising power over a coach. That was a very new phenomenon at that point. Nowadays, if LeBron James wants Frank Vogel fire, he can do it in a second. You know, if Kawhi Leonard wants ty loo fired, he can do it in a second. Back then, that didn't happen. The coaches, the general managers, the owners and all the power. And Magic Johnson, I think you can make the argument was the first player to have more power than his coach and his general manager. I always saw Wesley got a raw deal with the Lakers. You know, I thought the guy freaking was a really good coach. It would be the first time in his professional career that coach Paul westhead would be fired. The day I got fired, I went home and I was kind of devastated because this is the first time I got fired and you really take it personal. Now I've been fired 14 times. So I don't take any of it personally. I'm a pro. Getting fired. And I'm home with my family and kids left school. They were crying and the whole 9 yards. But a call from the player he regarded as his number one. With managed to lift his spirits. About an hour after I'm home, I get a phone call from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And he says coach, I'm sorry to hear what happened. I want you to know I was not a part of this. And I want to thank you for the time that we were together. That was the

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