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Magic Johnson Announces He Will Step Down as Lakers Pres. of Basketball Ops.

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2019

FILE - In this Tuesday, June 26, 2018 file photo,Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations, Earvin
Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

Magic Johnson announced Tuesday he is stepping down from his role as the Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations, per Bill Oram of The Athletic.

He discussed his decision with reporters in a surprise press conference:

NBA TV @NBATV

BREAKING: Magic Johnson has stepped down as Lakers' President of Basketball Operations. https://t.co/yrHkguOO02

"I think that with [team owner Jeanie Buss] and I, I want to always preserve our relationship with her," Johnson said, per Oram. "And I think I had more fun when I was able to be the big brother and ambassador."

"(Jeanie) doesn't know I'm standing here," he said of Buss, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

"Somebody's going to have to tell my boss because I knew I couldn't be face-to-face and tell her," he said, per Oram. "... I couldn't stand to tell her."

The Hall of Famer returned to the Lakers in an executive role in February 2017, replacing Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss in the front office.

However, there have been questions about his commitment to the role in the past two years:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Since taking over as president of the Lakers, Magic Johnson never fully committed to the job. Often he was traveling and away from the team. His office hours were limited. He didn't do a lot of scouting. Running an NBA team takes a tremendous commitment of time and energy.

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Oram reported earlier in the day that Johnson is "seen as an absentee executive," while Ramona Shelburne of ESPN said on The Jump he hasn't spoken to head coach Luke Walton in "weeks."

Johnson also lamented his inability to speak to other players around the league:

Chris Haynes @ChrisBHaynes

Magic Johnson says he likes to be free to congratulate players such as Russell Westbrook when he hit the 20–20-20 mark. Says he couldn’t be himself and he hasn’t informed Jeanie Buss yet.

He has been warned or fined multiple times for tampering, including comments on Paul George and more recently Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Meanwhile, the Lakers haven't tangibly improved under his leadership, as they missed the playoffs for the sixth straight season. He signed LeBron James in free agency, but he was unable to surround him with other stars.

Johnson's departure could cause a ripple effect throughout the organization:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Lakers coaching staff fully expected to be fired in hours after the final game of the season. They had believed they were gone for months. Now? Magic quits in public, saying he's too scared to tell Jeanie Buss face-to-face. What an embarrassing episode for a historic franchise.

Los Angeles will now have to decide upon a new direction before an important offseason.

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