When Magic Johnson stepped down from his role as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the reasons he gave was the disagreements between him and Jeanie Buss on firing Luke Walton.
“And then when those things start happening too much, Stephen A., the straw that broke the camel’s back was that I wanted to fire Luke Walton. We had three meetings. I showed her (Jeanie Buss) the things he did well, and the things he didn’t do well. And I said listen, we got to get a better coach. I like him, he’s a great former Laker, the whole thing… The first day it’s ‘okay, let’s think about it.’ The second day it’s ‘okay, you can fire him.’ Then the next day it’s ‘we should try to work it out.’ So when we went back and fourth like that, and then she brought Tim Harris into the meeting, and Tim wanted to keep him (Luke) because he was friends with Luke. And Luke is a great guy. Great guy. And so when I looked up I said ‘wait a minute. I only really answer to Jeanie Buss, and now I got Tim involved,’ and I said ‘it’s time for me to go.’ I got things happening that was being said behind my back. I don’t have the power that I thought I had to make the decsions, and I told them when it’s not fun for me, when I think that I don’t have the decision-making power that I thought I had, then I gotta step aside.”
For the uninitiated, Harris is the Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Lakers.
Magic’s statements on Harris only accentuate the clear problem the Lakers have with a lack of hierarchy. Jeanie Buss seems to be listening to several high-ranking executives but many of them, like Harris and Linda Rambis, do not even have basketball experience. It clearly affected the environment while Magic was still around and it has only become worse since he let go of the position.
Between Johnson’s claims that general manager Rob Pelinka backstabbed him and these allegations about Harris’ role in keeping Walton (even though the team eventually dismissed him, anyway), it’s clear that there is no level of trust within the Lakers management. With a crucial summer coming up, that is a terrifying thought.