Los Angeles Lakers

Lakers without Magic Johnson not quite what LeBron James signed up for

Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation as Lakers team president took a lot of people by surprise, now including LeBron James.

With a clear eye on pursuits outside of basketball as his career winds down, LeBron James coming to the Los Angeles Lakers can’t really be credited to the salesmanship or megawatt smile of Magic Johnson. But James can now officially be added to the list of people surprised at Johnson’s sudden resignation as team president on April 9.

James has a show on HBO called The Shop, which is just like it sounds, with candid conversations taking place in a barbershop-style setting. In an episode recorded on April 11, but released on Saturday, teammate Lonzo Ball joined James and the departure of Johnson was a natural topic of discussion.

James talked about how he was notified by his chief of staff, Randy Mims, and it’s pretty clear he wasn’t thrilled about how Johnson handled the situation.

“No one had no idea … We were like, ‘Damn, like right now?’ It was literally 70 minutes on the clock before [the game]. I’m not playing, but my team is still playing, and you kind of decide to do that right here, right now. I feel like there’s a time and place for things, and I believe that you knew that you were going to make that decision, so why would you do it here and why would you do it now?”

James went further, seemingly conveying the notion Johnson may have sold him a bill of goods (NSFW language).

“I came here to be a part of the Lakers organization, having a conversation with Magic and really kind of breaking it down and saying how we was gonna make this Showtime again, and I wanted to be part of that process … He explained to me Year 1 is going to be tough … But I was okay with the process. At Year 16, you ain’t really supposed to be worrying about no damn process, especially for me because I’m in championship mode all the time … So it was just weird for him to just be like ‘I’m out of here’ and not even have no like, ‘Hey Bron, kiss my a–. I’m out of here.’ I would’ve been okay with that. ‘Hey Bron, it’s Magic. Kiss my a–. I’m gone.’ Not even that.”

James’ first departure from the Cavaliers, as he “took his talents to South Beach” via a televised event on ESPN, makes it a little hard for him to criticize how someone else departs anything. But he’s hardly the only one to criticize Johnson for how he resigned, including openly telling the media he hadn’t talked to owner Jeanie Buss yet.

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Shy of telling his boss, Johnson didn’t have to tell anyone he was stepping down before he did so, and that includes Lakers players. But right or wrong James is a different case, and he clearly believes he shouldn’t have been blindsided by the move the way everyone else was.

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