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Lakers go into Game 7 immersed in drama

Magic Johnson says Lakers Coach Mike Brown, center Andrew Bynum and forward Pau Gasol would be on the way out if the Lakers lose to Denver. The organization issues a statement supporting Brown.

May 13, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • Coach Mike Brown guided the Lakers to a 41-25 record and the Pacific Division title in his first season with the organization.
Coach Mike Brown guided the Lakers to a 41-25 record and the Pacific Division… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

The Lakers seemingly couldn't get through a family breakfast without drama.

As if they didn't have enough worries heading into Game 7 of their first-round playoff series, the Lakers had to hear the franchise's most popular figure question the future of their coach on the eve of the game.

Magic Johnson, the Lakers vice president who also serves as an ESPN analyst, said Friday that Lakers Coach Mike Brown wouldn't keep his job if his team lost to the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

"Mike Brown will not be coaching the Lakers if they lose this game," Johnson said on ESPN. "There would be so much pressure on [executive vice president] Jim Buss and the Laker organization to get rid of him."

Johnson also said that center Andrew Bynum and forward Pau Gasol would also be on the way out if the Lakers lost.

Not that either player or their coach has to worry after the Lakers held off the Nuggets for a 96-87 victory at Staples Center.

Brown didn't seem concerned about Johnson's comments, even before his team secured the triumph, saying the analyst was merely doing his job.

"I think ESPN probably pays him seven figures, so he's got to make comments," Brown said. "He's free to say what he wants. It doesn't bother me."

The Lakers issued a statement supporting Brown, who guided the team to a 41-25 record and the Pacific Division title in his first season with the organization. Brown has two more years on his contract, followed by a team option.

"The opinion expressed [Friday] by Magic Johnson regarding Mike Brown was his personal opinion and was made in his role as a TV analyst," the statement read. "His words were not made on behalf of the Los Angeles Lakers, and in no way do they reflect the feelings or position of team ownership or management. We are fully committed to and supportive of Mike Brown as head coach of the Lakers."

Brown laughed when a reporter asked whether Johnson, who also recently became part owner of the Dodgers, should focus a little bit more on his new venture.

"He said that," Brown said, pointing at the reporter. "I did not."

No longer loving L.A.

Derek Fisher admits it.

The former longtime Laker pumped his fist last week to a raucous "Beat L.A.!" chant from fans who greeted the Oklahoma City Thunder at the airport after its first-round sweep of the Dallas Mavericks.

"A little bit," Fisher told reporters in Oklahoma City.

A little bit?

"Yeah, I just kind of got into the moment," said Fisher, who was acquired by the Thunder in March. "I'm normally not a very demonstrative guy. But for those fans to come out that late at night for us advancing in the first round, you know, that was pretty special."

Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Lakers and Thunder will be Monday in Oklahoma City. Game 2 will be Wednesday in Oklahoma City, followed by a back-to-back situation in Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Saturday at Staples Center.

Bryant finishes fourth

Kobe Bryant was fourth in voting for the NBA's most valuable player, receiving two first-place votes and 352 points.

Miami's LeBron James, who became the first three-time winner since Michael Jordan, collected 85 first-place votes and 1,074 points. Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (889 points) was second and the Clippers' Chris Paul (385 points) third.

"Selfishly, yes, I wish he would have gotten it because he's my player and I thought he's done a heck of a job for us this year," Brown said of Bryant, who averaged 27.9 points but shot only 43% during the regular season.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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