Magic Johnson Roasted for Blaming Lakers’ Loss on Something That Didn’t Happen

Fans rightfully didn’t buy this excuse.
Magic Johnson and Stephen A. Smith
Magic Johnson and Stephen A. Smith / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Denver Nuggets in five games after losing Monday night's Game 5. There are many reasons the Lakers lost the series (most of them start with "Jamal Murray") but a franchise legend believes there was one reason above all for the early playoff exit— load management.

Yes, you read that right. Magic Johnson made the case that the Lakers are going home early because of load management down the stretch of the season, a thought he expressed on X, as he is wont to do. The primary reasoning was that they could have avoided the Nuggets in the first round if they had posted a better regular season record.

The problem with this logic is that the Lakers didn't really load manage this season as we've come to understand the concept. LeBron James was dealing with a nagging ankle injury for much of the year post-All Star break but he only missed three games after March 1. Anthony Davis only missed two games in that same time period. One came against the Golden State Warriors, a fellow play-in team, but Davis wasn't out for rest, he was forced to sit because he took a shot to the head the previous evening.

There are many times where NBA teams can and should be criticized for prioritizing load management over winning games. This was not one of those times. Six different Lakers played over 70 games this season. Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt were both seriously injured for most of the year. Los Angeles was plagued with many other problems but load management, objectively, was not one of them.

Johnson, predictably, was roasted for his take.

Load management or no, the Lakers are done for the season and major changes appear on the horizon.

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Liam McKeone


Liam McKeone is a Senior Writer for the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. In addition to his role as a writer, he collaborates with other teams across Minute Media to help define his team’s content strategy. He has been in the industry as a content creator since 2017, and prior to joining SI in 2024, Liam worked for NBC Sports Boston and The Big Lead. In addition to his work as a writer, he has hosted the Press Pass Podcast covering sports media and The Big Stream covering pop culture. A graduate of Fordham University, Liam is always up for a good debate and enjoys loudly arguing about sports, rap music, books, and video games. Liam has been a member of the National Sports Media Association (NSMA) since 2020.