Magic Johnson Feels Responsibility to LeBron James; 'He Had a Big Brother in Me'

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 28, 2019

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 20: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat, sitting with the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) trophy, is interviewed by NBA legend Magic Johnson following the Heat's victory against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals on June 20, 2013 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Former Los Angeles Lakers team president Magic Johnson said Friday he still feels a responsibility toward LeBron James since he played such a key role in the recruitment of the four-time NBA MVP.

"He signed knowing I was here. That we had a plan," Johnson told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. "He knew he had a big brother in me as well. He could run things by me. He can still do that."

The Basketball Hall of Famer stepped down from the Lakers organization in April, stating in an impromptu press conference that the front-office role was too restrictive.

"I want to go back to having fun," he said at the time. "I want to go back to being who I was before taking on this job."

It doesn't appear he's done trying to help the Lakers build a championship contender, though.

Earlier this week, Johnson told Bill Oram of The Athletic he still reaches out to members of the Lakers brass, including CEO Jeanie Buss, with his take on the team's potential moves.

"I've sent messages, I've left her messages," he said. "... I call her assistant or whoever and just like I say, 'Hey, we've got to do [the Anthony Davis trade].' I left them all a message: 'You've got to do it.' Because now you're set for 10 years, even after LeBron. And I'm glad they did it."

Although Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times reported Johnson was scheduled to take part in a meeting with representatives for impending superstar free agent Kawhi Leonard, Johnson explained to Shelburne he's not permitted to take part in those types of official team activities:

Ramona Shelburne @ramonashelburne

Magic Johnson says he will help the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency in any way he can, but he is not permitted by NBA rules to be part of official team meetings with prospective free agents. Johnson said he has not been asked by the Lakers or owner Jeanie Buss to participate.

Regardless, it's clear Johnson feels a strong connection to both James and the franchise as a whole after leading L.A. to five NBA championships during his playing days.

It's unknown whether James, who said Magic's exit blindsided him, remains in contact with the Lakers legend.