Magic Johnson steps down as Los Angeles Lakers chief

Magic Johnson stunned the basketball world on Tuesday, abruptly resigning from his management role with the Los Angeles Lakers and plunging the ailing NBA franchise into fresh turmoil. In...

Magic Johnson stunned the basketball world on Tuesday, abruptly resigning from his management role with the Los Angeles Lakers and plunging the ailing NBA franchise into fresh turmoil.

In a dramatic announcement which came shortly before the Lakers’ final game of the season, an emotional Johnson said he was stepping down after a two-year reign as president of basketball operations with the 16-time NBA champions.

The 59-year-old Lakers legend’s decision followed a disappointing campaign which saw the once-mighty Los Angeles franchise fail to make the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year.

“Today, I’m gonna step down as the president,” Johnson told reporters at an impromptu press conference.

Johnson had been saddled with the task of reviving the Lakers and played a pivotal role in persuading LeBron James to join the team last year in a blockbuster move.

However, the Lakers’ revival stalled this season when James was injured, triggering a slump which saw the team fall from playoff contention.

Johnson also attracted criticism for an unsuccessful pursuit of New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis, a move which was widely reported to have destabilized the Lakers locker room.

He told reporters he was stepping down in order to preserve his friendship with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, describing her as “like a sister.”

The former Lakers star also revealed he had been wearied by the responsibilities of his position, saying he had not enjoyed the process of hiring and firing personnel.

“(Jeanie Buss) and I have such an amazing relationship,” Johnson said. “She gave me full power to do what I wanted to do, but I think that with her and I, I want to always preserve our relationship.

“I had more fun when I was able to be the big brother and the ambassador to everybody. I had more fun on the other side than on this side.”

The Lakers meanwhile paid tribute to Johnson in a brief statement.

“There is no greater Los Angeles Laker than Earvin Johnson,” the team said. “We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise, as a player, an ambassador and an executive.”

Source:AFP

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