Top 10 Coach Killers

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Magic Johnson

When a first-year coach and rookie star player team up to win an NBA championship, one would think it sets the stage for a long successful partnership. This was not the case in La-La Land.

In 1980 rookie Magic Johnson took home NBA Finals MVP honors as the Lakers won the championship under first-year coach Paul Westhead and the start of a dynasty seemed to be in place. It was – just without Westhead. Early in the '81-'82 season Magic, by then the highest paid player and one of the biggest stars in the NBA, had a dispute with Westhead and demanded to be traded. Johnson thought the Lakers’ offense was unimaginative and too slow. A day later Westhead was fired despite having won five straight games and replaced by assistant Pat Riley.

Of course Magic wasn’t the only one who had a problem with Westhead, Lakers owner Jerry Buss had complained about the coach’s offense and said Westhead was likely on his way out even without Magic’s trade ultimatum.

The Lakers won their first game under Riley and afterward Buss said, "This, I think, is the beginning of Showtime, at least the curtain is up." The "Showtime" Lakers would go on to win the NBA title that year and three more times in the next six seasons. Westhead, for his part, reinvented himself as a hyper-offensive coach, presiding over record-setting teams at Loyola Marymount and the Denver Nuggets.

Top 10 Coach Killers

11 / 11
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