Magic Johnson dropped a bomb on the Lakers organization on the final day of the 2018-19 season. I’m sure everyone remembers, but prior to the final game of the season, he collected media around him to reveal that he was stepping down as President of Basketball Operations for the Lakers. It was arguably the most shocking moment of that NBA season, with the Lakers left without their head executive before one of the most important offseasons in recent memory.
Rob Pelinka, Jeanie Buss, and the rest of the Lakers organizations regrouped and recovered, producing an offseason that has led to the Lakers starting the season 24-4. Magic Johnson did put them in a great position a year prior, helping sign LeBron James to a four-year contract, but was not around officially for the trade that brought in Anthony Davis. He was also not around for any of the deals signed this summer, including Danny Green, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley among others who have proven to be successful with this team.
However, Magic thinks he’s made an impact on this team. Here’s what he had to say to Bill Plaschke/LA Times:
”This team would not be in the position it’s in without me,” he (Magic) says.
He talks about the trades he and Pelinka made to clear the salary cap space to sign James, notably the dealing of Timofey Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell. He talks about his recruitment of James. He talks about the players they drafted — Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart — who were included in the deal for Anthony Davis.
”This was my strategy, this is what I thought we’d be in three years,” he says. “I knew we were on the right track. Everybody wanted to do it their way, but I’m good with who I am. … I think people respect what I’ve done for the team.”
You do have to partly give him credit for signing LeBron James, but it is a bit far fetched to say that he’s had a big impact on the Lakers’ successes this year. In the Lakers’ initial pursuit of Anthony Davis in February with Magic at the helm, the process was mired by many press leaks that always seemed like they were coming from Magic. Ever since Magic has been gone, there’s been next to no types of negative press leaks for the Lakers. Magic surely didn’t have any input on the players signed this summer, creating a team that can actually shoot the three compared to last year’s terrible shooting team.
With that being said, if you want to go down the “semantics” route, Magic isn’t wrong when he says he the team “would not be in this position” without him. He did personally go to LeBron’s doorstep to officially sign him, and he got the job done. Still, take his comments with a grain of salt, as he failed to put a LeBron James-led team in the playoffs.
If you want to read more about what Magic Johnson had to say about the Lakers, go check out the LA Times article from Bill Plaschke.