Magic Johnson: My 'Showtime' Lakers would beat the Warriors

ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Golden State Warriors may have set the record for wins in a season and are two games away from capturing a second straight NBA championship, but don't tell Magic Johnson they could beat his "Showtime" version of the Los Angeles Lakers.

And that especially goes for Warriors guard Klay Thompson and his father, Mychal Thompson, coincidentally a member of those famed Lakers teams.

Klay Thompson caught Johnson's attention after the Warriors dismantled the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-77 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday.

"We are better than the 'Showtime' Lakers," Klay Thompson said, interrupting teammate Draymond Green, who was asked whether the Warriors could be compared to a team from a previous era.

"I think it's all subjective," Green said before Thompson jumped in. "To say we're better than the 'Showtime' Lakers, how can you say that? We never played them."

Mychal Thompson, a member of two of the Lakers' five championship teams in the 1980s, knows.

"I admit this: We would shoot. And we shot eight 3s a game. They make eight 3s a quarter," Mychal Thompson said Monday on the Thompson and Trudell Show on ESPN LA 710. "Golden State would outscore us 50-15 on 3s. So how are we supposed to win? So I agree with Klay, I think they would beat us. We couldn't keep up with them offensively because of the way they can score so quickly."

Johnson disagreed.

"We've never seen two guys who can shoot like Steph [Curry] and Klay, and I give them that," Johnson said Tuesday on First Take. "But they've never ran up against somebody like us. I'm telling you, whoever is going to dog me, I'm going to be wearing them down. I'm going to be wearing them out. James Worthy will be wearing them out, wearing them down. Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar] is going to be wearing them out, wearing them down."

"Klay's dad, Mychal Thompson, is one of the smartest players I've ever played with in all of basketball," Johnson added. "But the Warriors would have bad matchups against us. There's no way they're going to deal with Kareem. There's no way they're going to deal with James Worthy. The thing that we could do, that would affect them and cause some problems, is that we could set up and we could run on them on the fast break."

Having played on those Lakers teams, and having coached against these Warriors, Byron Scott sees both sides of the debate. And he agrees with Johnson.

"No doubt in my mind, we would have beat them," Scott said Tuesday on The Jump. "Magic's right, there are so many things you can look at when you talk about this matchup.

"I'm not taking anything away from the Warriors. I love the way this team plays. They're great, they've got great chemistry. They have two of the best shooters who have ever played this game. But who's going to guard Kareem? Who's going to guard Magic? Who's going to guard James Worthy?"

What about how the game has changed since Scott was a player?

"We could play the '80s rules, or we could play the rules of 2015-16 as well [and win]," Scott said.

Mychal Thompson played a key frontcourt role in the Lakers' back-to-back titles in 1987-88 before retiring in 1991.

"I am a man secure in my legacy, secure in my accomplishments," Mychal Thompson said. "I don't have to be all, 'Oh, we're better than them.' I'm not that grumpy old man, even though I sound like that many a time. But I can admit when the new era is better than something else or that's changed from the time I played. And the way they play, we would have a hard time keeping up 'cause, like I said, our game wasn't shooting 3s, which theirs [is]. And 3 beats 2."

Johnson agrees the Warriors are good for the NBA and that their style of play is exciting, but the five-time champion and three-time Finals MVP is still sticking with "Showtime."

"I think what [Curry and Thompson] have done for the league has been amazing," Johnson told First Take. "They are going to be great for this league, the NBA, for a long time, especially if they sign Steph to a long-term contract.

"But at the same time, I'm never going to give in to nobody -- I don't care who it is. I don't care what Mychal said. ... My 'Showtime' Lakers would beat the Warriors. I don't care what you say or anybody else. I'm coming at them and I'm coming hard at them."

Related Video