- Magic Johnson resigned as president of the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday.
- Johnson held an impromptu press conference to announce the decision and revealed he had not yet told Lakers owner Jeannie Buss.
- According to reports, Johnson had met with Buss and LeBron James in recent days and did not signal he planned to resign.
- The Lakers coaching staff also reportedly believed for months that they would be fired by Johnson after the final game of the season, and they ended up outlasting Johnson.
- ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that he had never seen anything like the reaction around the league to Johnson’s abrupt retirement.
Magic Johnson resigned as Los Angeles Lakers president on Tuesday in a shocking move.
Johnson made the announcement during an impromptu press conference on Tuesday. As he made the announcement, he revealed he had not yet told Lakers owner Jeannie Buss, saying he couldn’t bear to face her.
In the aftermath of Johnson’s announcement, it’s becoming clear that nobody had any idea that Johnson was going to step down.
According to Yahoo’s Chris Mannix, Johnson met with Buss on Monday for nearly three hours and did not reveal he planned on leaving.
Johnson mingled around media and Staples Center staffers for nearly two hours after his press conference. Johnson said he hadn’t yet contacted Buss and that he planned to see her either Tuesday night or on Wednesday but would recall her regardless. Johnson ultimately didn’t seem entirely concerned, and said when he meets with Buss face to face, she would understand stepping down is the right move for him.
Buss tweeted later Tuesday that night she loved working with Johnson.
Earvin, I loved working side by side with you. You’ve brought us a long way. We will continue the journey. We love you ???????? https://t.co/ofmQl6BtBz
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) April 10, 2019
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported that Buss was “stunned” to hear of Johnson’s resignation and that many members of the Buss family were “sad, angry, and disappointed.” According to Shelburne, Buss spent much of Tuesday with GM Rob Pelinka going over the fallout of the resignation.
None of the players seemed to know, either. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Johnson also met with LeBron James and his agent Rich Paul over the weekend and, similarly, did not signal his plans.
Shelburne reported that James was “stunned” by Johnson’s resignation.
Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo told reporters that he walked into Staples Center, saw a throng of media around Johnson, and didn’t know what had happened.
“I walked in … and thought LeBron had retired or something,” Rondo said.
Furthermore, according to Wojnarowski, the Lakers coaching staff had all expected they would be fired after Tuesday’s game, their final game of the season. Wojnarowski reported that Johnson even intended to fire head coach Luke Walton but ended up resigning first.
Walton told reporters after the Lakers’ Tuesday loss to the Portland Trail Blazers: “I found out when you guys did. It was 80 minutes before the game.”
Shelburne said on Wednesday that she spoke to some of Johnson’s closest friends, and they didn’t know he was going to step down, either. Shelburne said the scene was one of the craziest things she’s seen in her career.
Wojnarowski said on “SportsCenter” that he had never seen anything like the reaction within the Lakers and around the league to Johnson’s abrupt resignation.
Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that Johnson struggled to commit to the rigorous schedule that being a team president demands, rarely travelling to scout and holding limited office hours.
Johnson explained on Tuesday that he was happier before he took the job as Lakers president. Among other things, Johnson wanted to be a mentor and ambassador in the basketball world, which he couldn’t do as president. He pointed to not being able to work out with the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons, at Simmons’ request, saying he looked like the “bad guy.”
Johnson said he always wanted to be a business man after his career was over. He told reporters he was doing fine in that field before taking the Lakers job.
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