Shortly before the Los Angeles Lakers’ final game of the season against the Portland Trail Blazers, President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson remarkably announced to the media that he was resigning from his post with the team.
The news came as a shock to Laker fans around the globe, as the team are prepping for a huge off-season in which it is expected that additional star talent is to be added alongside LeBron James. Coming into this campaign expectations were high and understandably so, unfortunately the season did not go to plan as the team failed to reach the play-offs for a sixth successive season.
Johnson revealed in a press conference to the media that he did not even notify owner Jeanie Buss or general manager Rob Pelinka of his intentions to depart. “Somebody is going to have to tell my boss, because I know she’s going to be sick… But I knew I couldn’t face her face-to-face and tell her” Johnson said.
Jeanie Buss did react on Twitter during half-time of the Lakers’ close loss to the Trail Blazers however, admiring the changes that Johnson had brought to the franchise during his short tenure.
The Lakers organisation did release a statement a short time after, thanking him for his services and stating their intentions moving forward, in finding a successor.
“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.”
Obviously it is unknown what has occurred behind closed doors, but Johnson did state a desire to return to his ‘old life’ of being a wealthy businessman. Johnson added his frustrations of being investigated and fined by the NBA for tampering whenever he comments on basketball on social media or speaks to another organisation’s player.
This story is moving fast and new details are emerging every hour it seems. This article will feature as a live blog below where you can stay up-to-date (oldest to newest).
10/04: The full press conference in which Magic Johnson announced his resignation can be found below:
10/04: Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN has commented on Magic Johnson’s commitment to the role, stating that his “office hours were limited”. Wojnarowski also addressed the ongoing situation with coach Luke Walton.
10/04: Bill Oram of The Athletic gives a brutal but honest account on the Lakers’ current situation following the news of Magic’s departure:
10/04: Shaq reacts to Magic Johnson stepping down as Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations:
10/04: ESPN’s Rachel Nichols speaks to Magic Johnson following his press conference:
10/04: Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports suggests that Lakers owner Jeanie Buss recently gave Magic Johnson permission to fire coach Luke Walton at the conclusion of this season. It is unknown whether this will now go ahead.
10/04: Bill Oram of The Athletic is back again. He calls for Jeanie Buss to call on the likes of R.C. Buford, Sam Presti or Bob Myers for the vacancy.
10/04: Magic Johnson breaks his silence on Twitter with the following message.
10/04: ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne is suggesting that Rob Pelinka will stay as General Manager of the Lakers.
“The team is still assessing Johnson’s decision, but general manager Rob Pelinka will stay in his job, and, if anything, his power will grow.”
10/04: Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck describes Magic Johnson’s resignation as being “probably the best thing that’s happened to the Lakers in months”.
10/04: “Magic Johnson Denies Misconduct with Lakers Staff Ahead of Reported ESPN Story”
11/04: The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson, who covers the Golden State Warriors, has reported that the Lakers have a possibility of replacing Magic Johnson with Bob Myers from the Warriors. The story also has the backing of the New York Times’ Marc Stein and ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
But why would Myers want to go to the Lakers?
Well, for starters, money. According to Sam Amick, national NBA writer for The Athletic — as he discussed on the new “Tampering” podcast — Magic was making $10 million a year with the Lakers. No, Myers does not make that much with the Warriors. Maybe about half that. Myers definitely makes less than Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who recently signed a contract extension at a number the Warriors have been diligent about keeping close to the vest.
If $10-million-a-year and the power to choose his staff is on the table, Myers would have to listen. I’d bet he’d listen. His wife might make him listen. But it may not even take that much. That’s the only upward step for him: full control and a salary that makes him the chief. The chance to get that while going back to his stomping grounds has to make it even more attractive. He’s already done the impossible — been the head of building his childhood team into a dynasty. The only thing that’s possibly cooler is resurrecting the Lakers. That might be enough.