In a surprise move that shocked basketball fans, Magic Johnsonannounced today that he’s stepping down as the Los Angeles Lakers’ President of Basketball of Operations. Johnson took over the position two years ago in hopes of building and restoring the team to become championship contenders.
The former Lakers icon made the announcement following Luke Walton’s pregame comments and prior to the team taking to the court to go against the Portland Trail Blazers. “So today I’m going to step down as president,” Johnson said. “I don’t wanna…[team owner Jeanie Buss] and I have such [an] amazing relationship. I think that she gave me full power to do what I wanted to do, but I think that with her and I, I want to always preserve our relationship and love her. I think that I had more fun when I was able to be the big brother and ambassador to everybody.”
He admitted that he hadn’t yet delivered the news to his “sister.” “I couldn’t face [Buss] to tell her,” Johnson continued. He stated that although his decision was difficult, he needed to return to a place where he could “be free and not have handcuffs on me.” His desire to interact with the players in a way where he could express his opinions was also a key factor in his decision.
Johnson also said that the Lakers are “headed in the right direction” and “next year we’re going to be good. If we get one of these [free agents], we’re going to be really good…I’m good with where I am,” Johnson said. “I’m happy. I want to do the things I used to do. I had to weigh both situations and this is better for me.”
The Lakers issued the following statement regarding Johnson’s departure:
There is no greater Los Angeles Laker than Earvin Johnson. We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise – as a player, an ambassador and an executive.
We thank him for his work these past two years as our President of Basketball Operations and wish him, Cookie, Andre, EJ and Elisa all the best with their next steps. He will always be not only a Lakers icon, but our family.
As we begin the process of moving forward, we will work in a measured and methodical fashion to make the right moves for the future of our organization.