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Magic Johnson criticizes Lakers, Jim Buss once again

Lakers great Magic Johnson once again criticizes the team and direction of the franchise under Jim Buss

On Tuesday, Magic Johnson lashed out against Lakers owner/executive Jim Buss.

"[He's] trying to do it himself, trying to prove to everybody that this was the right decision, that 'my dad gave me the reins,' and he's not consulting anybody," Johnson said on ESPN's "First Take."

After the passing of Lakers owner Jerry Buss in February 2013, son Jim Buss became the final word for the Lakers on the basketball side of franchise, as executive vice president of basketball operations.

"His father was smart enough to understand that, you know? 'I can own the team, but I don't have the basketball expertise to make those decisions, so let me bring in Jerry West,' " said Johnson.

West served as general manager under Jerry Buss before stepping down in 2000. General Manager Mitch Kupchak took over, helping the Lakers win four additional titles -- two with the core of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant that was built by West.

Johnson contends that Jim Buss has not empowered Kupchak to guide the Lakers back to contention.

"If were Jim, I would say, 'Mitch, you run the show,' " Johnson said. "I think it would be a lot better for the Lakers, too. Mitch Kupchak knows what he's doing. He's great. He's smart."

Johnson vowed on Twitter in January 2014 to stop complaining about Buss and the state of the team, "Because I love the Lakers!"

While Johnson was a scathing critic of Mike D'Antoni, the Hall of Fame guard has remained a staunch supporter of his former "Showtime Lakers" teammate Byron Scott as head coach -- despite the team's 13-38 record.

On Feb. 4, Johnson tweeted, "The Lakers without Kobe [Bryant], [Jordan] Hill and [Julius] Randle are still playing hard and exciting basketball!"

Johnson criticized Buss for not admitting the mistakes of hiring Mike Brown and D'Antoni.

He did acknowledge that he has a strong connection to Lakers President Jeanie Buss.

"[I] don't have [a relationship with Jim Buss], love his sister though.  I've got a great relationship with Jeanie," Johnson said.

Johnson also noted he's paying $300,000 a season for a box at Staples Center.

"People think I don't want the Lakers to win. Are you kidding me?" he said.

Johnson absolved Bryant of any blame for taking a two-year, $48.5-million contract extension while recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon.

"Kobe didn't ask for that money. This is not Kobe's fault. Remember Jeanie and Jim brought that contract to him," Johnson said. "That's been the Laker way. They always say to their superstar, 'We're going to take care of you.'"

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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