The Los Angeles Lakers may have landed the #4 pick in the 2019 NBA draft, but they’ve got a lot of other problems to solve—like running a functioning NBA franchise that’s become a shell of its former self.
But for the time, Laker legend Magic Johnson aired out the team’s dirty laundry on ESPN’s First Take and revealed why he really quit without so much as telling his boss and dear friend Jeanie Buss of his monumental decision.
In the very open interview, Johnson said that the backstabbing he was referring to in his impromptu press conference, was general manager Rob Pelinka.
“If you’re going to talk betrayal, it’s only with Rob,” he revealed. “But, again, I had to look inside myself. I had been doing that for months. Because I didn’t like that Tim Harris was too involved in basketball. He’s supposed to run the Laker business, but he was trying to come over to our side. Jeanie’s gotta stop that. You gotta stop people from having those voices.”
Johnson also expressed that his issues with Pelinka began in the very first year they had to work together. He spoke to owner Buss about the issues like being allowed to run his business outside of his Laker duties.
“Things got going in the right direction, and then I start hearing, you know, ‘Magic, you’re not working hard enough. Magic’s not in the office.’ So people around the Laker office was telling me Rob was saying things—Rob Pelinka—and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back, that I wasn’t in office enough and so on and on,” he continued. “So I start getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things now were said to them outside of basketball. Now not just in the Laker office anymore, now it’s in the media and so on.”
Johnson’s stepping down may have seemed sudden but he’d actually been thinking about it for a while after never being too happy with the inner workings of the basketball club, including wanting to fire head coach Luke Walton, saying, “The straw that broke the camel’s back was I wanted to fire Luke Walton, and we had … three meetings. I showed her the things he did well and the things he didn’t do well. And I said listen, we gotta get a better coach. I like him, he’s great, former Laker, the whole thing. So, the first day, ‘Well, let’s think about it.’ Second day, ‘OK, you can fire him.’ Then the next day, ‘No, we should try to work it out.’ So when we went back and forth like that, and then she brought Tim Harris into the meeting, you know, some of the guys.”
Ultimately, Johnson was never given the autonomy he was promised and decided to dip. Now it’s up to the purple and gold to figure things out with an aging LeBron James on their squad.
And yes, he accidentally called Nick Young Swaggy P.