Los Angeles, April 10: Magic Johnson shockingly stepped down as the Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations on Tuesday (April 9) before the team’s final game of the season.
Johnson called an impromptu press conference where he announced the news. He said part of the reason he made the decision was to maintain his relationship with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.
Magic Johnson shocks - well, everyone - and announces he’s stepping down as president of the Lakers. Says he’s not yet spoken to Jeanie Buss to tell her. Says he’s sick of tampering rules, he’s tired of the “backstabbing” & says he didn’t want to disappoint Jeanie by firing Luke. pic.twitter.com/m50VKQmmDR— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) April 10, 2019
“I think that with (Jeanie) and I, I want to always preserve my relationship with her,” Johnson said.
“And I think I had more fun when I was able to the be big brother and ambassador.”
Johnson said he wanted to be available to players who seek his mentorship, something he could not do in his position with Los Angeles.
“I was thinking about all those times, all the guys who want me to be a mentor, be a part of their lives and I can’t even do that,” Johnson said.
“I have more fun on the other side than on this side. … I want to go back to having fun. I want to go back to who I was before taking on this job."
Johnson spoke with the media before discussing his resignation with Buss.
Magic is taking pictures with Andy Bernstein and Jim Hill on his way out. Now he's looking for Jeanie Buss, who he hasn't told about his resignation face-to-face.— Kyle Goon (@kylegoon) April 10, 2019
The Lakers entered the season with high expectations after they signed star LeBron James to a four-year, $153.3 million contract in July. They opened with a 20-14 record, but James suffered a strained groin on Dec. 25. He missed the next 17 games and the team never recovered.
The Lakers also dealt with injuries to key role players — including Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart — and they shut down James for the rest of 2018-19 in late March.
Los Angeles was widely expected to move on from coach Luke Walton this offseason and he believed he would be fired after the game against the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN. But, Walton’s job status is now uncertain following Johnson’s announcement, the report says.
Lakers coaching staff fully expected to be fired in hours after the final game of the season. They had believed they were gone for months. Now? Magic quits in public, saying he's too scared to tell Jeanie Buss face-to-face. What an embarrassing episode for a historic franchise.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 10, 2019
Johnson took over in the Lakers front office in February 2017. Los Angeles has now missed the playoffs for six straight seasons.