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Magic Johnson says Rob Pelinka was chasing after his job with Lakers

Magic Johnson, Rob Pelinka

Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson was cognizant of the role envy in the front office while working alongside general manager Rob Pelinka. The former president of basketball operations told ESPN’s First Take that Pelinka was chasing after his job, even after he told the latter he would get him ready to take that position after his departure.

Johnson listed being backstabbed by Rob Pelinka and the rumors he spread in the front office as a major reason for resigning his post before the last game of the regular season, and while they were other factors that bothered him, it was Pelinka’s behavior that ultimately made his work less enjoyable.

Transcript via Harrison Feigen of SB Nation’s Silver Screen & Roll:

“No just Rob,” said Johnson. “I think that other people didn’t bother me. Its really funny as I sit here, I don’t worry about those type of things. I’m not a guy who is like ‘oh man, they said this about me’ and I worry about it. What happened was I wasn’t having fun coming to work anymore. Especially when I’ve got to work beside you, knowing that you want my position.

“And I’m okay with that. Because this is what happened, Stephen A. I told him in year two, ‘I’m only going to be here three years. So my job, Rob, is to get you ready for this position.’ I was going to help elevate him to the president’s position. So when all this was coming back to me, and guys telling me and saying ‘you better watch out for him. And what was crazy was, when I took the job, you know how many agents called me and said ‘you’ve got to watch out for him.’ And I said Well, I’ve got to give the guy a fair chance, you know, I can’t listen to people.’ He was a hard worker, smart guy, but now you have that position, so I’m good with that.”

It seems that Pelinka wasn’t willing to wait to ascend to power, according to Johnson — and that has to be an uncomfortable position to be in, given the stakes.

Ultimately Johnson decided to hand Pelinka the reins by resigning prior to the last game of the regular season and ridding himself of what’s become the laughing stock of front offices around the league.