NBA Hall of Famer. Member of All Time 50 Greatest NBA Players. Dream Team Member. Olympic Gold Medalist. Three-Time MVP. Five-Time NBA Champion. Three-Time Finals MVP. 12-Time All-Star. Two-Time All-Star Game MVP. NCAA Champion. NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. Part Owner of MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers and the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Philanthropist. Business Mogul. All of the previous accolades have been earned by Earvin Johnson, recognized around the world as Magic. In February 2017, Magic assumed the title of President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers are a storied franchise with a long and illustrious history. They have so many Hall of Fame players to their credit, they are too numerous to name. Heck, retired Hall of Fame guard Jerry West’s silhouette is “The Logo” which adorns NBA uniforms. The Lakers are second only to the Boston Celtics with team championships, having most recently won it all at the end of the 2009-10 season. Needless to say, success is something that is both demanded and expected of this franchise.
When Magic assumed the position of President of Basketball Operations in February 2017, the Lakers had missed the playoffs for three consecutive years, with that season being the fourth. Unfortunately for Lakers fans, the 2018-19 season will be the sixth consecutive year the Lakers will miss out on participating in the playoffs.
Facing the daunting task of righting the Lakers ship, Magic, along with newly hired general manager/former agent Rob Pelinka would roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Superstar guard Kobe Bryant had recently retired, leaving the team without a superstar to which they could look to. The roster needed to be reshaped and fast. Each of the 2015 and 2016 drafts saw the Lakers draft second overall, selecting guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Brandon Ingram.
For the first pick of the Magic/Pelinka Era, they selected guard Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick. Knowing this wouldn’t be an overnight fix, Magic informed the Lakers faithful that he needed two summers to get the players in place to restore the Lakers back to their glory days. Recruiting LeBron James to sign a free agent deal and join the team in the summer of 2018 would be his signature moment. Unfortunately, Magic was unable to convince another prominent free agent to come to LA.
The 2018-19 season started off with great promise. In spite of not acquiring another top-tier free agent, signing LeBron was quite a significant step in the right direction. Once the season started, things didn’t quite go as planned. The Lakers would have several players succumb to injury and miss multiple games. Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and James himself, would miss a number of games, with Ball and Ingram being shut down for the season in March 2019. These injuries proved to be too much to overcome. Going into the final week of the season, the Lakers record stands at 37 wins and 44 losses. Not quite what was expected or hoped for.
On April 9, 2019, Magic Johnson stepped down as President of Basketball Operations. He would resign the post from his beloved Lakers, the organization for which he toiled while earning most of the previously referenced accolades. By resigning from his position as President of Basketball Operations, Magic said he would be able to speak freely and work with players while offering his vast knowledge of the game. The Lakers are hopeful that they can attract a signature free agent this summer. When doing so, they won’t have Magic in an official capacity to help in this pursuit. While he undoubtedly will not abandon the franchise, he no longer is employed by them.
In his statement announcing his resignation, Magic says he feels as if he “has gotten a monkey off his back” by stepping down. There were many who felt as if Magic and general manager Rob Pelinka were ill prepared to do the jobs for which they were hired. While Pelinka remains, Magic has decided that he longer wanted to remain.
Going forward, the Lakers can only hope that they are able to make the right calls in charting the future of the franchise. Head coach Luke Walton will likely be fired at the end of the season. The selection of a new head coach, along with player signings and draft selections will be critical to the success or failure of the organization. Magic has many different opportunities/responsibilities that demand his attention. Although he indicated it would take two summers to get the job done, Magic decided he wanted to ”go back to having fun.” In other words, he stepped down.