Magic Johnson stepped down as president of basketball operations with the Los Angeles Lakers right before the conclusion of the 2018-19 regular season. It was a move that caught many by surprise, including LeBron James. Now, a few weeks later, Johnson is opening up about his decision.
Johnson played a big role in James’ decision to join the Lakers last offseason. In fact, Magic was at Lebron’s doorstep the moment he was allowed to begin negotiating. So when LeBron heard that Magic was stepping down, he naturally felt a certain amount of resentment.
On a recent episode of “The Shop,” James opened up about his stance on Magic’s departure:
“(Magic) was like, ‘I’m out of here,'” James said. “And not even say, ‘Hey Bron, kiss my ass. I’m out of here.’ At least, I would’ve been okay with that. It wasn’t even that.”
Johnson took some time to respond to James’ comments during a guest appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” on Monday:
“I respect LeBron for what he’s said,” Johnson said. “I love LeBron and I love his family — what he’s done for the Lakers organization and what he’s done for me as the president of the Lakers.
“But sometimes, as a man, you have to make decisions based on your well-being. And I made that decision based on me and my own happiness. I could’ve done it a different way, he’s right. But I did it my way. That doesn’t take anything away from our relationship or how I feel about LeBron. But sometimes, as a man or a woman, you have to make decisions based on your own happiness. Sometimes you just have to go out and do your thing, and that’s what I did.”
When asked if he would change the way he left the Lakers, Magic gave a simple reply:
“I’m not a regretful person,” Johnson replied. “I stick to my guns. I didn’t just wake up and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to leave the Lakers.’ This was building up.”
"Max, I'm not a regretful person."
–@magicjohnson on stepping down from the Lakers pic.twitter.com/4BSiPlnNf1
— First Take (@FirstTake) May 20, 2019
The Lakers had hopes of making it to the playoffs this season. However, several issues arose throughout the season that hindered their goal.
First, James went down with a groin injury near the midway point of the season, forcing him to miss 17 consecutive games. Then, at the trade deadline, Los Angeles was willing to send basically its entire young core to the Pelicans for Anthony Davis. That deal never came to fruition, leaving those same young players on the roster for the remainder of the season, knowing they were once trade pieces.
Once the regular season was over, the Lakers parted ways with Luke Walton, who was serving as the team’s head coach. After a few weeks of interviews, Frank Vogel was chosen to be the next playcaller in Los Angeles.
Clearly, the Lakers have dealt with a lot of adversity in recent months. However, there is still hope for the future. Los Angeles will have quite a bit of cap space. If the Lakers can land another star to play alongside James, there is a good chance we’ll see them in the playoffs next season.