When LeBron James joined the Los Angeles Lakers last summer, he was probably envisioning the next four years working alongside Magic Johnson to build a championship contender. Well, that vision ended just nine months to the day that James singed a four-year deal with the Lakers, as Johnson surprised everybody by stepping away from his role as President of Basketball Operations for the team.
Like everyone else who heard the news from Magic Johnson’s makeshift press conference yesterday — one in which he did prior to even telling Lakers owner Jeanie Buss about his decision to leave — LeBron James’ reaction was reportedly “stunned.” That’s according to ESPN, which also added that the Lakers’ general manager, Rob Pelinka, would be retained as the team moves along in filling Johnson’s vacant role.
LeBron James was stunned to learn of Magic Johnson’s decision to step down as the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations, a source with knowledge of James’ thinking told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne on Wednesday. But despite Johnson’s abrupt resignation, James stands behind Lakers owner Jeanie Buss and the organization, the source told Shelburne.
League sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Johnson and Pelinka visited with James and his agent, Rich Paul, on Saturday. Johnson offered no indication that he was on the brink of leaving the team, sources said. Johnson said he did not tell James about his decision to leave before making his announcement, either.
The Lakers’ decision to keep Rob Pelinka, a former agent to players such as Kobe Bryant, is an interesting one. That’s because reports this morning said that Magic Johnson reportedly wanted to fire Pelinka, but Jeanie Buss wouldn’t allow him to. In his press conference, Johnson did reference a three-hour meeting with Buss the day prior, so one can’t help but wonder if Pelinka’s job security was one of the topics of conversation.
Given all that the Los Angeles Lakers have gone through since LeBron James decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers last summer, they better hope they make the right decisions in the next few weeks and months in order to take advantage of the four-time NBA MVP’s talents. James is already 34 years old, missed more time this season than in any other of his NBA career, and isn’t getting any younger. The iconic franchise has one shot at knocking this out of the park, so, while Magic Johnson’s abrupt resignation stunned LeBron James and everyone else in the basketball world, the (Lake) show must go on and order needs to be restored quickly so not to waste another season next year.