Magic Johnson Steps Away as Lakers President of Basketball Operations

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In a stunning and impromptu 40-minute news conference before the Los Angeles Lakers’ season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers, Magic Johnson announced he was stepping down from his role as the team’s president of basketball of operations. The decision comes a little more than two years after he took on the position in an effort to restore one of the league’s most storied franchises to championship contention. Johnson made the announcement immediately after coach Luke Walton’s pregame comments, adding that he had not yet informed team owner Jeanie Buss of his intentions to step down.

“Today, I’m gonna step down as president,” Johnson, 59, revealed, adding that he had not yet told Jeanie Buss, the team’s controlling owner and president, or general manager Rob Pelinka. “It’s the right thing to do, the right move to make.” “I think that I had more fun when I was able to be the big brother and ambassador to everybody,” he continued. “I wanna go back to having fun, I wanna go back to who I was before taking on this job.” Despite not telling Buss ahead of time, Johnson said he had no hard feelings for the team’s owner and would have struggled to share the news with her. “I love [Jeanie] as a sister,” he continued. “Her and I have such an amazing relationship and I think that she gave full power to do what I wanted to do … I wanna always preserve our relationship.” “She doesn’t know I’m standing here because I know I would be crying like a baby in front of her,” he added.

Then his smile disappeared, his laughter died, and he quit. Just like that, in a move as stunning as any trick he pulled in more than two years as Lakers president of basketball operations, Magic Johnson made himself disappear. In the middle of his personal quest to return the Lakers to glory, with his star recruit LeBron James sitting across the hall amid the hope that more stars will be joining him this summer, Magic Johnson walked away. He made the announcement before telling owner Jeanie Buss. He held the news conference without the advance knowledge of team officials. This was his dream job, a role he could have reasonably filled for the rest of his life, yet he ended it all in nine words.