Magic Johnson’s resignation as Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations came as such a surprise that not even his employer was aware of the decision. That feeling of shock that fans had as they heard the news was the same felt by the players in the locker room prior to their final game of the season.
On the latest episode of his HBO show, “The Shop,” LeBron James spoke candidly about how he (and guest Lonzo Ball) heard the news and the feeling he had towards it.
(Warning: Some NSFW language)
“Between my stretching session, my right hand comes to me and stays ‘Magic just stepped down.’ I’m like ‘What do you mean? Like from out of his car?’ I’m like ‘Man, get the fuck out of my face, you’re bullshitting.’ He like, ‘Go check your phone.’ Randy walks in with me. I check my phone. I look at it and shit happened. [Lonzo’s] on the floor in the locker room and he looks up at me almost at the same time I’m checking my phone. He like, ‘Yo, you see that shit?’ Everybody starts coming to the locker room. No one had no…we was like ‘Damn. Right now?’ It was literally like 70 minutes on the clock before, you know, I’m not playing but my team is still playing, getting ready for a game. And you the kind to decide to do that right here, right now.”
James continued by explaining, in fairly clear terms, what he thought of Johnson’s surprise announcement and, in particular, its timing.
“I feel like there’s a time and place for things and I believe that you knew you were going to make that decision. So why would you do it here? Why would you do it now? Personally, for me, I came here to be a part of the Lakers organization [after] having a conversation with Magic and really kind of breaking it down and saying how we was gonna make this Showtime again and I wanted to be a part of that process. He kind of explained to me like year one is gonna be tough. We’re a young crew. But we’re gonna do what we gotta do this year. We’re gonna see how well we can perform this year. And obviously, injuries kind of fucked up this year but we all knew that it was gonna be kind of tough.
I was okay with the process, which at year 16, you aren’t really supposed to be worried about no damn process especially for me cause I’m in championship mind mode all the time. So it was just weird for him to just be like, I’m out of here. And not even have no like ‘Hey Bron, kiss my ass. I’m out of here.’ I would have been like okay with that. It wasn’t even that.”
It’s pretty evident that James lost a lot of respect for Johnson in how he handled his exit, especially given their relationship. After all, Johnson was the only member of Lakers brass to meet with James before the superstar forward signed with the Lakers.
There have been rumblings about the unceremonious change in the front office and the shifting power dynamics making LeBron uneasy and untrusting of the organization. James, for his part, has tried to discredit those rumors through social media.
However, with routine missteps and dramatic changes to the organization he signed on with, it’s fair to wonder just how much LeBron has bought into the Lakers.