Liz Truss got fired by Team Tory today, a rough end to a 45-day run in which she managed to steer an entire country into a crushing economic crisis simply by doing what Tories always want to do: skim off the top and the bottom simultaneously. A horrendous idea embodied in one person—it is both a wonder that she lasted as long as she did and wasn’t kept in the job longer by the party’s waistcoated sadists to take more of a public beating.
Frankly, it is reminiscent of Magic Johnson’s turn as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
You may not remember it much, given that 1) it was 28 years ago, 2) like the Brits, the Lakers were already in the toilet when Magic came to right the ship, 3) it lasted only the final 16 games and 31 days of a season in which they went 33-49, 4) started with five wins in his first six games and ended with a 10-game losing streak, and 5) was one of the very few stains on his resume until The Magic Hour.
Most of the time, quick firings happen after a buildup of bad results in prior seasons, like Scott Frost at Nebraska, who was such a disaster that the school’s delusional alums and administrators paid an extra $7.5 million in walk-away money just to be rid of him. Truss isn’t getting that kind of parachute; she’ll just be known as someone went to Employment Defcon 1 faster that anyone in British political history without benefit of a beheading.
There are also those examples of coaches who figure out they weren’t cut out for the new gig, like Jerry Tarkanian and the San Antonio Spurs, who did 20 games in 1992 before quitting because he couldn’t endure the life and the strains therein. Or Rollie Massimino, the longtime coach at Villanova who didn’t even turn up at his introductory presser with the New Jersey Nets. Or Bill Belichick, who used his introductory press conference in 2002 to quit the job he’d taken the day before. In fairness, he did coach the AFC to victory in the 1999 Pro Bowl as part of a Jets coaching staff that did not include head coach Bill Parcells, who begged off the trip to Hawaii citing health concerns. Like perhaps he was sick of football for awhile.
Mostly, though, even the worst North American coaches last longer than Liz Truss, with the caveat being none of them ever got to ruin an entire economy, although Frost gave it a good try. The 1973 Philadelphia 76ers, who won nine games all season, and let Roy Rubin coach the first 51 games before it dawned on anyone that being 4-47 is pretty irredeemable. Even the Charlotte Hornets, who went 7-59 11 years ago allowed/made Paul Silas do the full 66. By comparison, we are quite the patient lot when it comes to coaches. Nathaniel Hackett hasn’t been fired yet in Denver, for example.
Anyway, nice try, Liz. You did all you could in a month and a half and managed not to have to sell your country to the Swiss just to stave off bankruptcy. If you lay low a bit, maybe you can get the Chelsea job when Todd Boehly gets tired of Graham Potter. Or better yet, your own chat show to take over for Mock The Week. The BBC always needs exciting new ideas, and “Lizzie’s Guide To Instant Bankruptcy” sounds like just the ticket. At least for those who still have power in their homes for the television.