Magic Johnson, then the president of the Los Angeles Lakers, played a role in bringing LeBron James to L.A. in the summer of 2018. Though Johnson is no longer with the franchise, he said his relationship with the superstar hasn't changed.
Johnson opened up about his relationship with James during an appearance on FS1's Undisputed on Friday:
"I'm still here for him. I can still play that role of the big brother. Nothing has changed other than I'm not sitting in that seat. ... I think I can help him more in this role because now I'm not handcuffed in what I can say, what I can do. And so I'mma always love LeBron because he took a chance on me and he took a chance on the Lakers. And he had options. He could've went anywhere."
Johnson unexpectedly stepped down from his post prior to Los Angeles' 2018-19 finale on April 9. He did so during a media session—and without talking to anyone within the Lakers organization beforehand. By handling matters that way, neither owner Jeanie Buss nor James had a heads up.
James later said on The Shop: Uninterrupted that he found it "weird" that Johnson did not talk to him ahead of time, given the Hall of Famer was part of the reason he signed with the team as a free agent just months before (WARNING: Video contains profanity):
Johnson acknowledged during an appearance on ESPN's First Take in May that he "could have done it a different way," though he does not regret the way he handled the situation:
It does not appear that there are any lingering hard feelings between the two at this point.
As Johnson exited the organization, the Lakers were wrapping up their franchise-record sixth consecutive season without a postseason appearance. They have since added six-time All-Star Anthony Davis, among others to the roster.
Regardless of who else is on the team, though, Johnson has faith that James is going to return the franchise to glory:
James and the Lakers fell to Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers in the season opener on Tuesday, but they will have a chance to start building some momentum Friday night against the Utah Jazz.