Magic Johnson announced Tuesday evening he is resigning as the Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations, about 90 minutes before they faced the Portland Trail Blazers to conclude their sixth consecutive losing season.
Johnson made the announcement at an impromptu pregame news conference at Staples Center, noting that he had not even formally notified owner Jeanie Buss of his decision.
Johnson, 59, said he thought to himself, “What am I doing? I’ve got a beautiful life, so I’m going to go back to that beautiful life. I’m looking forward to it. Somebody’s gonna have to tell my boss. 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.”
The Lakers were 37-44 entering Tuesday’s game, assured of missing the NBA playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, despite signing perennial all-star forward LeBron James in the offseason. They had missed the playoffs five times in their 65 seasons preceding the current streak.
Johnson was appointed as president of basketball operations on Feb. 21, 2017, coinciding with the firing of Mitch Kupchak as general manager and the announcement that co-owner Jim Buss, a brother of Jeanie Buss, would no longer be executive vice president of basketball operations when the team had a 19-39 record.
At the time, Buss said she hoped the moves would “return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightfully expect,” referring to her late father, under whom the Lakers won 10 NBA championships, including five with Johnson as the point guard of the teams known as the Showtime Lakers.
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