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

Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Magic Johnson is stepping down as the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations, Johnson announced on Tuesday.

Johnson is an National Basketball Association legend in his own right, having played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons.

Johnson made the announcement ahead of the Lakers' regular-season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers, in which they lost 104-101. The statement said that Johnson "will always be not only a Lakers icon, but our family". Because tomorrow I would have to affect somebody's livelihood and their life, and I thought about that and said, 'That's not fun for me.

Johnson also says he's exhausted of being fined by the National Basketball Association for tampering.

Johnson also said that the Lakers are "headed in the right direction" and "next year we're going to be good".

Essentially Johnson's reasons for quitting boiled down to the fact that he just wasn't having fun. I was thinking about all those times, all those guys who want me to mentor them or be a part of their lives, and I can't even do that.

Johnson took over the position two years ago in hopes of building and restoring the team to become championship contenders. We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise - as a player, an ambassador and an executive. "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".

Johnson said he is not stepping down because of differences he's had with the team's coach of three years, Luke Walton.

Johnson's decision to step down from his role comes as the Lakers are finishing up what has been among the most-disappointing seasons in recent franchise history.

You can argue about Johnson's choice to draft Lonzo Ball, but Kyle Kuzma was a home run at No. 27 and Josh Hart appeared to be another one at No. 30.

Walton's future is in jeopardy after he failed to lead the Lakers to the postseason in the first season with LeBron James on the team. "See what she wants to do", the Lakers great added. However, he admitted that he made the decision alone, with Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka left in the dark.

"She doesn't know I'm standing here", Johnson said.

Johnson, who won five titles as a player with the team, was appointed president in March 2017. "But she's going to be fine, and I'm going to be fine".

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