Smith: Magic Johnson Felt Betrayed By Folks Within Lakers' Organization

Posted April 11, 2019

"I've been talking to people, we've been talking about next year, and I'm sitting there saying, 'I'm not going to be here,"' Johnson said with a smile.

Johnson didn't directly tie his decision to the future of coach Luke Walton, who was widely expected to be fired by Johnson soon.

"Let me tell you what's going on here: Magic Johnson feels betrayed".

Johnson and Buss had a three-hour meeting Monday about the direction of the 16-time National Basketball Association champion Lakers, who haven't made the postseason since 2013. One of the weirdest parts of his impromptu press conference was his non-endorsement of Rob Pelinka, the general manager he hired.

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"Her and I have such an wonderful relationship and I think that she gave me full power to do what I wanted to do". If I had to stay, I had to get better.

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

After retiring and launching several business ventures, he re-joined the team in February 2017, when general manager Mitch Kupchak was sacked and Jim Buss was ousted as executive vice president of basketball operations. "Trust me. ... It's going to be hard for her to come and hear this right now".

In the end, it was all the theater of the Lakers' disappointing season bundled into a moment only a Laker - THE Laker - could produce. "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 don't want to disappoint her". "That's not who I am.' And then I don't want to put her in the middle of us, even though she said, 'Hey, you can do what you want to do.' I know she has great love for him and great love for me". We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise - as a player, an ambassador and an executive.

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The Lakers paid tribute to Johnson, a Hall of Famer during his playing days with the team, in a brief statement. "He will always be not only a Lakers icon, but our family".

But not everyone thought Johnson was good for the Lakers.

Johnson, who won five titles as a player with the team, was appointed president in March 2017.

Johnson said he just couldn't face Buss, who he called "my sister". "But she's going to be fine, and I'm going to be fine".

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