The Slatest

Magic Johnson Abruptly Steps Down as President of Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson announced Tuesday he was leaving his job as Los Angeles Lakers team president just over two years after taking the reins to revive an iconic franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2013, the fourth longest dry spell in the NBA. The move to leave the team appeared to come totally out of the blue, as the Laker Hall of Famer addressed the media in an impromptu press conference ahead of the team’s season finale against the Portland Trailblazers. “I want to go back to having fun. I want to go back being who I was before taking on this job,” Magic said getting emotional at times. “I was happier when I wasn’t the president.”

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Magic told reporters that the public announcement came before he had even told Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. During his remarks, Magic came back to the theme that he had “more fun” outside of his current role, particularly when he “was able to be the big brother or ambassador to everybody.” The Lakers had gotten dinged by the league for Magic’s interactions with league stars that opposing teams said amounted to tampering. During his farewell, Magic repeatedly brought up his frustration with not being able to act as an elder statesman of the game whiles he was in the Lakers’ front office. “What I didn’t like was the backstabbing and the whispering,” Magic said without elaborating. “I have a great life outside of this. I was like: what am I doing? I’m going to go back to that.”

Magic leaves a franchise very much in transition, but still far from a finished winning product. Despite the addition of LeBron James this past offseason, the young team sputtered under the new weight of expectations and failed to make the playoffs. “We’re halfway there with LeBron coming,” Magic said of the team’s progress. “I think this summer with that other star coming this team is really going to be in a position to contend for a championship with the growth of the young players.”

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