Magic Johnson made a stunning announcement that he was stepping down as the LA Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations.
Johnson delivered the news at an impromptu news conference and he said he had not yet informed Jeanie Buss, the team’s controlling owner.
In fact, he had told nearly no one before he addressed a mass of hastily assembled reporters.
“I couldn’t face her to tell her,” he said, referring to Buss. He later added that he would find her at Staples Center to address her in person.
The team released a statement calling Johnson “not only a Lakers icon, but our family. 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. 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 way Johnson stepped down was a surreal scene as he answered questions for nearly 45 minutes after he made his announcement. Appearing to hold back tears at times, and repeatedly saying that he loved Buss like a sister.
He then posed for pictures with team employees, former teammates and a local news anchor.
“I want to go back to having fun. I want to go back to being who I was before taking on this job, and we’re halfway there with LeBron coming. This summer, with that other star coming in, whoever’s going to come in. I think this team is going to be in position to really contend for a championship with the growth of the other young players.”
Johnson took the job in February 2017 and said at the time that it was a dream come true. But on Tuesday, he said that he wanted to get back to being a mentor and a businessman, and he had felt limited in his ability to do those things in his current role.
While Johnson had some memorable moments at the helm of the Lakers’ operation, the roster that he and Pelinka built around James was widely considered inadequate.
“I’m excited about the direction,” he said before he headed out the door.