Magic Johnson addresses rumored ESPN article on allegations
Was there something more to Magic Johnson’s decision to abruptly resign on Tuesday from his position as president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers?
When Johnson made his shocking announcement, there was some speculation among media members that the decision was related to a rumored ESPN article that would reflect negatively upon him.
As word spread through the Lakers’ organization and the NBA, several people wondered whether Johnson’s departure was related to a yet-to-be-published article by ESPN that is said to address allegations about Johnson’s conduct with employees.
“That story is wrong,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times.
The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that the article focuses on Johnson’s alleged “mistreatment of employees” and would be “extremely unflattering” for the executive.
Magic was asked about that on Tuesday night and dismissed it, saying he would never act in response to an article.
“An article would never make Magic Johnson do something he don’t want to do,” Johnson said, according to The Athletic Lakers beat writer, Bill Oram. “I know me. Ask people who deal with me – ask them. They’ve been around me for 40 years. … Same dude I was when I first got off the bus. Never disrespected nobody, never did anything bad. Now, am I tough? Hell yeah I am. You work for me, I’m demanding. That’s who I am.
“But at the same time, I’m fair. (Is) an article going to stop – make me do something? No. I’m good. They’ve been talking about that article for how many months? (Laughs) Everybody run up, ‘Oh they writing an article.’ OK. Great. I’m going (to) say ‘Why didn’t you interview everybody at ESPN? You know how many times ESPN hired me? Twice. If I was doing something wrong to employees, disrespecting, you think they would have hired me twice? No. I know that article is not an accurate article. I can tell you that now. …Now it’s some disgruntled, former Laker employees (talking to reporters). Yeah, they gonna say (what) they gonna say, ‘cause they wasn’t doing their jobs. So what is a person going to do? Point the finger bad about the person who fired them. I’m good. I’m a big boy.”
This breaks down in one of two ways to me. Does the article contain accusations of a misconduct nature strong enough to make him feel like he had to step down because he would have been asked to do so by the Lakers? Or is this article just merely unflattering and embarrassing, and therefore fits in with him stepping away because he no longer wants to be a punching bag?
If ESPN ever decides to publish the rumored article, we’ll find out. For now, the Lakers are left looking for a replacement. Here are the executives we believe they should target.