Magic Johnson announced this week that he is resigning as the Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations due to frustrations over limitations he faced as a team executive.
“Sometimes you have to think about where you are in life and what’s important to you,” Johnson said at an impromptu pregame news conference at Staples Center about 90 minutes before the Lakers faced the Portland Trail Blazers to conclude their sixth consecutive losing season.
Johnson said “what’s important for me is I get to help everybody” by leaving his position, free from the fines he and the Lakers had been levied for previous comments.
Johnson specifically cited his inability to tweet congratulations to Russell Westbrook after the Oklahoma City Thunder guard last Tuesday became the first NBA player to have 20 points, 20 rebounds and 20 assists in the same game since the late Laker center Wilt Chamberlain in 1968.
“If I had did that, everybody (would have said) ‘He’s tampering,”’ Johnson said. “I don’t like that. I like to be free.”
Later Johnson said, “I’ve got a beautiful life. I’m going to go back to that beautiful life.”
Johnson, 59, said he had not told owner Jeanie Buss of his decision before his announcement.
“Somebody’s gonna have to tell my boss,” Johnson said. “I know she’s gonna be sick but I know I couldn’t face her face-to-face, even though I was just with her yesterday. We had like a three-hour meeting about the direction (of the team).”
Johnson said he had already made up his mind to step down from the post, but kept the news to himself until he spoke to reporters Tuesday night.
“I’ve been talking to people, we’ve been talking about next year, and I’m sitting there saying, `I’m not going to be here,”’ Johnson said with a smile.
About 2 1/2 hours after Johnson’s announcement Buss tweeted “Earvin, I loved working side by side with you. You’ve brought us a long way. We will continue the journey. We love you,” followed by purple and gold hearts, symbolizing the team’s colors.
The Lakers issued the following statement: “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.”