Magic Johnson said Monday he stepped down as Lakers president of basketball operations last month because he felt betrayed by general manager Rob Pelinka and that he didn’t have the decision-making power he thought he’d have in the role.
Johnson said on ESPN’s “First Take” that controlling owner Jeanie Buss told him before he agreed to the job that it was OK that he spent time outside of the Lakers working with his various other businesses. But about a year into the job, Johnson said, he started hearing rumblings that Pelinka wasn’t happy with that arrangement.
“People around the Lakers office was telling me Rob was saying things and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back, that I wasn’t in the office enough and so on and on,” Johnson said. “So I start getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying that those things were being said to them.”
But Johnson said that “the straw that broke the camel’s back” was when he wanted to fire then-coach Luke Walton, but Buss was listening to others close to her who thought differently.
“I said, it’s time for me to go,” Johnson said. “I got things happening that were 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 I gotta step aside.”
He added: "It’s too many people at the table. And so what happens, everybody gets to share their opinion and it’s so much information coming at her, then when I say, ‘Hey, we have to do this,’ she can’t make a decision because they said, ‘No, don’t go the way Magic goes, you should go left instead of going right.’ So her love for those people and respect for those people often caused us to not make the right choice or there’s no decision. So I said, ‘Listen, you can’t run a corporation like this. You can’t have everybody think that they can have a voice or opinion about the final decision.’ That was supposed to be me, as the president, having the final say.”
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