Magic Johnson made an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday morning to discuss [in Stephen A. Smith’s words] “what the hell happened” and why he resigned as Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations. Specifically, Magic mentioned the backstabbing from general manager Rob Pelinka that led to his decision to step down.
Says Magic (H/T Bleacher Report):
“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 Lakers 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. 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 Lakers office anymore, now it’s in the media and so on. … And people gotta remember something, being in this business for over 40 years, I got allies, I got friends everywhere.”
“If you’re going to talk betrayal, it’s only with Rob. 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.”
Magic also said “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was that he wanted to fire Luke Walton, but there were two many other people involved in the decision-making process.
“The straw that broke the camel’s back was I wanted to fire Luke Walton and we had three meetings. I showed her [Jeanie Buss] 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.
“And Tim, you know, wanted me … he wanted to keep him, because he was friends with Luke. Luke’s a great guy, great guy. And so when I looked up and said, ‘Wait a minute, I only really answer to Jeanie Buss.’ Now, I got Tim involved and I said it’s time for me to go. I got things happening that was being said behind my back, I don’t have the power that I thought I had to make the decisions, and I told them, ‘When it’s not fun for me, when I think that I don’t have the decision-making power that I thought I had, then it’s time to step aside.'”
Check out Magic’s full comments about his decision to step down as Lakers’ President of Basketball Operations in the videos embedded below.