The Los Angeles Lakers are a picture of dysfunction right now, but Magic Johnson has changed his stories to serve himself.
Out of the blue on April 9, Magic Johnson had an impromptu media session and stepped down from his role as Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations.
It took him over a month to go scorched Earth, appearing on ESPN’s First Take this past Monday and pointing the finger of betrayal at general manager Rob Pelinka.
Johnson suggested the last straw for him was his desire to fire head coach Luke Walton and owner Jeanie Buss’ hesitation to allow him to do it.
There was buzz that Pelinka openly commented within the Lakers’ building about Johnson’s lack of time spent there, which would not be surprising if it was not widely understood.
According to Johnson, via that lengthy interview on Monday, Buss knew the arrangement going in.
I told her, I said listen, ‘I can’t give up all my businesses. I make more money doing that than becoming president of the Lakers. So, you know that I’m going to be in and out. Is that OK with you?’ She said yes.
On the point of Pelinka being a back stabber, Johnson suggested the two had a good working relationship just days after he stepped down.
But this is the whopper. During an interview at the time of his hiring, with Jeanie Buss sitting next to him no less, here’s what Johnson said. (via Darius Soriano of Forum Blue and Gold).
If it was probably any other situation, I probably wouldn’t have left my business aside, left my business to concentrate fully, 150 percent on Lakers business. But because of her leadership – and I know she wants to win so bad – I decided hey, I wanted to work side-by-side with her.
Johnson’s presence and personality win a lot of rooms, and he has had great success in business since he retired as a player. Clearly, he figured he could just show up when he felt like and have success as Lakers’ president.
He deserves no credit for LeBron James coming, but the ill-fitting other pieces assembled last offseason lay right at Johnson’s feet.
The Lakers are a picture of dysfunction right now. But it’s easy to expect better from Johnson though, and it appears he was naive enough to think his change in stories wouldn’t be preserved.
The shift from a positive tweet about Pelinka in April to a harsh critique of him this week is one thing.
But the turn from publicly saying he’d be concentrating “150 percent on Lakers business”, to saying he actually told Buss he’d be a part-timer and she was fine with it, points to one thing above all else for Johnson–self-preservation.