Monday, 22 April, 2019

The Magic is gone: Johnson steps down as Lakers president

“If I’m going to step down from the Lakers this is the best time,” said Magic Johnson shown last year “If I’m going to step down from the Lakers this is the best time,” said Magic Johnson shown last year
Jennie Wade | 11 April, 2019, 00:36

Johnson didn't tell owner Jeanie Buss or general manager Rob Pelinka before he stepped in front of reporters about 90 minutes before the final game of the Lakers' sixth consecutive losing season.

Johnson was apparently given permission to sack head coach Luke Walton but refused to do so. "Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightfully expect", referring to her late father, under whom the Lakers won 10 National Basketball Association championships, including five with Johnson as the point guard of the teams known as the Showtime Lakers.

"Let me tell you what's going on here: Magic Johnson feels betrayed". He met with Buss on Monday and held a three-hour meeting with her about the direction of the organization, he said. "I don't want to disappoint her".

Johnson clarified that he worked well with Pelinka after they got familiar with each other, but that certainly wasn't a ringing endorsement of a guy he worked closely with for the last two years.

Johnson was handed organizational control as team president in February 2017 and helped the Lakers land superstar LeBron James as a free agent.

The former Lakers point guard had been serving as Los Angeles' president of basketball operations, but he had enough. "I couldn't face [Buss] to tell her", Johnson continued.

Buss didn't attend the Lakers' season finale, although Johnson waited by the executive parking area at Staples Center in hopes of seeing her. Buss tweeted her reaction at halftime.

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"Me and her (Lakers owner Jeanie Buss) have an fantastic relationship and she gave me full power for me to do what I wanted to do".

Johnson played a big role in convincing the four-time MVP to sign for the Lakers in July, but LeBron's first season in purple and gold saw expectations and reality travel two very different paths. "I want to go back to being who I was before taking on this job".

"Even though she said 'You do what you want to do.' I want to go back to having fun". "He will always be not only a Lakers icon, but our family".

Johnson's desire for his old life wasn't the only reason for his departure.

"My concern is over my relationship with my sister, Jeanie Buss".

However, the Lakers' revival stalled this season when James was injured, triggering a slump which saw the team fall from playoff contention. "But she's going to be fine, and I'm going to be fine".

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