BREAKING: Magic Johnson steps down as Lakers president

Magic Johnson
Nov 18, 2018; Miami, FL, USA; Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson reacts against the Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After a disparaging column about the state of the Lakers published by Bill Oram of The Athletic, Magic Johnson announced that he will be stepping down as Lakers President of Basketball Operations on Tuesday. The announcement came at an impromptu press conference prior to the final game of the season.

Johnson served as team president since the middle of the 2016-17 season. While he delivered on one promise to bring LeBron James to the team, the Lakers were unable to capitalize on that major move, missing the postseason for the sixth straight year.

Magic was hired after team owner Jeanie Buss fired her brother Jim from the same position. Johnson then hired Rob Pelinka to replace Mitch Kupchak as the general manager. It’s not immediately clear how Magic’s decision will impact Pelinka.

Johnson and Pelinka reportedly met with LeBron James and agent Rich Paul earlier this week and gave no indications of front office changes.

Johnson seemingly made the decision on his own and Buss was not informed that he would be telling media his decision prior to the game.

In his statement, Johnson revealed that he was not having “fun” in his role and wanted to return to being an ambassador for the game rather than running a franchise. His feelings seem to run parallel to multiple reports that he was often absent at his role and league executives found him difficult to get a hold of.

Johnson also “hinted” at his plan to fire Lakers head coach Luke Walton. With the president stepping down, it’s not clear where that leaves Walton and his role in the organization. Walton has long been a favorite of team owner Jeanie Buss.

Finally, Magic made sure to note that his relationship with Buss was most important to him:

We will update this story as more information is presented.

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