Magic Johnson announced Tuesday that he is stepping down as the Los Angeles Lakers‘ president of basketball operations.
Johnson made the abrupt announcement at an impromptu news conference held before Tuesday night’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
“I want to go back to having fun,” he said.
Johnson, 59, said he had not told Jeanie Buss, the team’s controlling owner and president, or general manager Rob Pelinka of his decision.
“I knew I couldn’t be face-to-face and tell her,” he said of Buss, saying he loves her like a sister. “I couldn’t stand to tell her.”
Johnson took the job in February 2017 after the team fired Mitch Kupchak as general manager and removed Jim Buss as executive vice president of basketball operations.
Johnson said his position with the Lakers didn’t allow him to be a statesman of the game of basketball, and he wants to go back to his life away from the job.
“I was happier when I wasn’t president [of the Lakers],” Johnson said.
He said he will return to community work and reaching out to players around the league to help in their development.
“I’m a free bird, and I can’t be handcuffed,” he said. “This is a good day.”
Asked if he would like to see Pelinka and head coach Luke Walton retain their jobs, Johnson declined to answer, saying that will be up to Jeanie Buss.
The Lakers were 37-44 entering Tuesday. They were 35-47 last season and have not made the playoffs since 2013.