Lakers News: Magic Johnson Discusses How He Handled LeBron James, LA Exit

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2019

Former NBA player Magic Johnson reacts as he talks with Eastern Conference LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers (23) during the first half of the NBA All-Star basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, Feb. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson said he isn't totally content with the nature of his departure as the team's president of basketball operations in April, but he believes it was the right decision to leave.

Johnson told Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times in an interview released Wednesday he should have planned his exit more carefully rather than resigning during an impromptu press conference.

"No regrets, I'm not a regretful guy," he said. "The only thing I would have done different would be to sit down with Jeanie [Buss] and let her know I was leaving, sit down with LeBron [James] and let him know ... otherwise, I wouldn't have changed anything. I still would have walked away."

Johnson confirmed he's made amends with Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka: "Things happened, forgive and forget. I've moved past that, so did Rob. Rob and I made up, we're good, we still talk."

He also wants to speak with Buss when they can get a chance away from the spotlight: "I haven't talked with Jeanie about everything yet. We'll get together and have a meeting where there's no media. Yeah, I should have told her what I was going to do."

While the Basketball Hall of Famer didn't discuss whether there's been a similar meeting with James, he told ESPN's Ramona Shelburne he wanted the Lakers star to know he's still there for him.

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

Meanwhile, the Lakers enjoyed a blockbuster offseason after Johnson's exit from the front office, highlighted by the addition of Anthony Davis. They've responded with a red-hot start and are tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the best record in the NBA at 24-4.

It's the level of play fans expected after L.A. signed LeBron last summer and, while it took an additional year of roster reconstruction, Magic hopes his part in the rebuilding process isn't lost in history.

"This was my strategy, this is what I thought we'd be in three years," he told Plaschke. "I knew we were on the right track. Everybody wanted to do it their way, but I'm good with who I am. ... I think people respect what I've done for the team."

Johnson said he still attends games, but he stays in his suite and doesn't try to interject himself in the Lakers' decision-making process. He's happier in the role of fan than he was as an executive.