Magic Johnson has always exuded confidence when it comes to the Los Angeles Lakers, but even the Lakers legend is nervous about the team’s chances to win their second straight title.
Johnson appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” and responded (at the 1:58 mark) to an assessment from the show’s co-host, Stephen A. Smith. He said that his confidence level is down from that of last season because of key injuries.
“We’ll I’m nervous because when you have A.D. (Anthony Davis) and LeBron [James] out with injuries, that is a cause of concern,” Johnson said. “And then I’m concerned about the middle too. We are not very good at shot-blocking, the things we used to be good at with Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee. We can’t close the middle down this year.
“I hope that during this trade deadline or if somebody gets bought out, we can solve that issue.”
Shortly after those comments, Johnson pointed out (at the 2:44 mark) that while he still has confidence that the Lakers can capture another title, they’re facing a much more competitive atmosphere compared to the 2019-20 campaign.
“I still believe in the Lakers, but the Lakers have competition this year that they didn’t have last season,” Johnson said.
On Tuesday night, the Lakers dropped their third game in a row to fall to 28-16 on the season, with a Thursday night matchup against the tough Philadelphia 76ers next up.
One indication of just how important the tandem of Davis and James are to the Lakers can be seen in the team’s record since Davis left the court with a calf injury in the Feb. 14 game at Denver.
The Lakers dropped that game to fall to 21-7 on the year, and have since compiled a mediocre 7-9 record. That stretch includes the three most recent losses that began in last Saturday’s game, a contest in which James left because of a high ankle sprain.
While Davis may be back on the court in the next two weeks, the return of James remains uncertain for now, a fact that will keep Johnson’s confidence in check for the time being.