The Los Angeles Lakers are probably at its lowest point in the entire history of the glorified franchise.
And when you factor in they still have arguably the greatest basketball player in the world; that’s saying a lot.
But former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson just went full scorched earth on the franchise and dropped a nuclear-sized bomb on the dysfunctional Los Angeles Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers climbed the ladder to chaos over the course of the 2018-19 season.
It started off so well too. In the offseason, the Lakers landed the biggest whale in free agency in LeBron James – signing him to a four-year deal. The Lakers jumped up the rankings immediately and while they may not have been championship contenders to begin the season, many analysts had them towards the top of the playoff seeding in a tough Western Conference.
Towards the end of the season on April 9th, president of basketball operations Magic Johnson stunned the basketball world when he abruptly quit. It was a shocking move that caused reporters to ask if he had informed controlling owner Jeanie Buss of his decision.
That sparked intense debates on what was going on behind the scenes. Or maybe he wasn’t being truthful with why he made that decision; Magic said his personal business was “exploding” and he needed to focus all of his time on that.
But Magic finally spoke about his decision Monday on “First Take” where he told co-hosts Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith the real reason why he left.
Magic used words like “backstabbing” to describe his former underling general manager Rob Pelinka.
The hall of famer said, “I start hearing, ‘Magic, you are not working hard enough. Magic’s not in the office.’ People around the Lakers office were telling me Rob was saying things, Rob Pelinka, and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back, that I wasn’t in the office enough. So I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things now were said to them outside of basketball now, just not in the Lakers office anymore.”
It sounds like the Lakers are incredibly dysfunctional because this seems like bad middle or high school gossip.
Pelinka denied what Magic said at a press conference held shortly after “First Take” aired, “I think the most important thing for me is the two years of being able to work side by side with Earvin are the some of the greatest memories I have in sports and work. He is an unbelievable person to work with. He fills the room with joy and vision. And truly it’s saddening and disheartening to think he believes things are a misperception. I think all of us in life probably have been through things where maybe there’s third party whispers or he said, she said things that aren’t true. I have talked to him several times since he decided to step away and we had many joy-filled conversations.”
At this point, it’s a simple game of “He said—he said,” so it’s hard to really come to any conclusion about which one is telling the truth. And make no mistake; one of them is undoubtedly lying.
Pelinka also added, “So these things are surprising to hear and disheartening but I look forward to the opportunity to talk with him and sit down with him and work through them just like in any relationship. They’re just simply not true. I stand beside him. I stand with him as a colleague, as a partner. I’ve always supported everything he’s done and will continue to.”
But they aren’t colleagues anymore so that’s a moot point. Magic has always lent an ear or a hand to the Lakers since he retired but to call them colleagues any longer is just untrue.
This is a bad look for the Lakers and it shows that the tip of the spear, Jeanie Buss, doesn’t know what she’s doing if there was this kind of animosity amongst her executives and diffusion of responsibility.