LeBron James has finally weighed in on the situation involving Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers, and he seems a bit offended that Magic didn’t have a private conversation with him before announcing he had stepped down.
In the latest installment of his series “The Shop” on HBO, LeBron said he was stunned when he heard Johnson was abandoning his post as president of basketball operations with the Lakers. He said his conversation with Magic last offseason was one of the main reasons he chose to sign with LA. Beware that the discussion has some inappropriate language:
“Personally, for me, I came here to be a part of the Laker organization (after) having a conversation with Magic,” LeBron explained. “So it was just weird for him to just be like ‘I’m outta here’ and not even have a (phone conversation) like, ‘Hey Bron, kiss my a–, I’m gone.'”
While there were a number of reasons LeBron wanted to play in LA, Johnson reportedly went to his house and met with him for several hours before James signed his contract. It would take a lot more than just a conversation with a Hall of Famer to get LeBron to make such a huge career decision, but it was obviously a factor on some level.
Magic Johnson may have abruptly quit his job as Los Angeles Lakers president and not given Jeanie Buss prior warning, but their relationship seems to be intact. In fact, the two seemed to make a point of proving that on Thursday night.
Both Magic and Buss shared photos on Twitter from a dinner they had together.
Magic said one of the reasons for his decision was he didn’t like the backstabbing that was going on. A report later suggested some emails behind Magic’s back that involved Buss and GM Rob Pelinka may have been what he was alluding to.
Despite the drama and the emails, Buss and Johnson seem to have put things behind them and remained close.
On Wednesday, Ric Bucher went on the Colin Cowherd show and offered an explanation for Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation as Lakers president. According to Bucher (as recounted by Complex), Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and owner Jeanie Buss exchanged e-mails about Johnson and what he was and was not doing in his role as president, and Buss inadvertently blind carbon copied Magic on some of those emails.
“So when he talked about the backstabbing, to me, my understanding that’s what started it,” Bucher said.
On Thursday morning, Magic Johnson took to Twitter to send this cryptic message:
Now, he went on to also talk about his anticipation of the NFL Draft and other topics shortly after, but in the NBA world, these kind of comments do not come by accident. Maybe Magic was talking about the world and life in general, but the timing sure seems to be related to Bucher’s revelation, as there has not been much activity on the Lakers/Magic backstory in two weeks since his surprise announcement.
If Bucher’s account is accurate, it would explain why Magic gave an impromptu surprise press conference to announce his decision to step down, and acknowledged not talking to Buss first about his decision.
Magic Johnson is worth hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to endorsement deals, successful real estate ventures and more, and only someone with a financial situation similar to his would walk away from the type of money he was making with the Los Angeles Lakers.
On the latest episode of his “Tampering” podcast this week, Sam Amick of The Athletic reported that Johnson was making $10 million per year as the president of basketball operations for the Lakers. Amick’s colleague, Marcus Thompson II, speculates that the Lakers could pursue Warriors president and general manager Bob Myers as a potential replacement for Johnson, and a $10 million salary could be one aspect of the job that makes Myers consider leaving the best team in basketball.
Johnson has said he will be more comfortable as an ambassador for the Lakers than he was running the team’s basketball operations department. While that means he will remain on LA’s payroll, it almost certainly will not be at a salary that is close to $10 million.
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.
“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?
Magic Johnson says he will be happier serving as an ambassador to the Los Angeles Lakers rather than the team’s president of basketball operations, and that could have a lot to do with the power he wanted — but was not granted — within the organization.
On ESPN’s “First Take” Wednesday morning, Stephen A. Smith reported that Johnson wanted to fire Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka before he decided to step down.
“Magic Johnson obviously wanted to fire Luke Walton. She (Jeanie Buss) was going to let Magic Johnson do whatever he wanted to do with basketball operations as it pertains to the coach. Pelinka is an entirely different matter,” Smith said, as transcribed by Jorge Alonso of Bro Bible. “He’s there because of his relationship with Kobe. Magic inherited him like Magic inherited Luke Walton, wasn’t necessarily the guy Magic wanted. I was told Magic Johnson walked into there and talked with them about wanting to get rid of not just Luke Walton but Rob Pelinka as well. And that’s when Jeanie Buss got her back up.”
Smith said Pelinka and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss both reached out to him and denied that Johnson wanted Pelinka gone, but he said that is what he and several other NBA reporters have been told. Smith also added that it is believed Pelinka was the one whose comments led to The Athletic running a story labeling Johnson an “absentee executive.”
Pelinka took over as GM of the Lakers in Feb. 2017, which is around the same time Johnson was hired as president of basketball operations. The relationship between Magic and Buss appears to still be on solid ground, but it seems as if the owner did not trust Johnson to take full control over the Lakers’ roster and personnel decisions.
Magic Johnson dropped a shocking bomb on Tuesday night by announcing he was stepping down as the Los Angeles Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations. Johnson announced the news to the media, saying he hadn’t even told Jeanie Buss or Rob Pelinka because he couldn’t face her and tell her the disappointing news.
Johnson’s announcement comes on the final day of the regular season for the Lakers, which will mark their sixth straight season without making the playoffs. It also comes right before the expected firing of Luke Walton and could result in a major change of direction for the franchise.
For months the expectation has been that Walton would be fired. But Johnson said he couldn’t be the bad guy and fire Walton, which played a role in his decision to step away.
End of the day, Magic Johnson claims he has too much love for Jeanie Buss to hurt someone she loves in Luke Walton. A high-stakes basketball version of the Gift of the Magi. Stunning.
Buss has always supported Walton and fought for his job, though she was willing to give the front office the power to fire him. Now that Magic is gone, the decision may fall to Jeanie or Pelinka, one of whom supports the coach. It’s conceivable that he could keep his job.
Though there is now a chance Walton keeps his job, we probably still should not consider it likely.
Magic Johnson dropped some shocking news on the NBA world before the Los Angeles Lakers’ final game of the disastrous 2018-2019 season. Johnson announced that he is stepping down as Lakers President of Basketball Operations.
Johnson held an impromptu press conference on Tuesday night before the Lakers hosted the Portland Trail Blazers in their final game of the season to announce the news, which may have caught many within the Lakers off-guard. He apparently did not give advanced warning to Jeanie Buss or Rob Pelinka that he would be stepping down.
Johnson also wanted to fire Luke Walton as head coach, though Buss seemingly supported the young coach. It’s unclear whether this will result in Walton maintaining his job.
Magic Johnson steps down as Lakers president. He hasn’t said it outright but is hinting strongly that he planned to fire Luke Walton and that won’t happen now. He is getting emotional and hasn’t told Jeanie yet he says.
Johnson took the front office job with the Lakers in Feb. 2017 and has been in his position for two years, the same amount of time since Rob Pelinka took over as GM. Under his watch, the Lakers were able to sign LeBron James and reshape the roster, though the franchise’s playoff drought has extended to six seasons.
Magic Johnson has had such a difficult time keeping his mouth shut about players from other teams that his tampering charges have become something of a running joke in the NBA, but it appears that he might be learning his lesson.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ president was on hand to watch Murray State standout Ja Morant in the Ohio Valley Tournament on Friday night, but when talking to a reporter, he managed to keep the name out of his mouth because “they’re amateurs.”
Watching Ja Morant tonight, you better BELIEVE Magic Johnson ain't letting you hit him with another tampering charge. pic.twitter.com/RWGFvMODLL