Magic Johnson explains abrupt Lakers departure, accuses GM Rob Pelinka of ‘backstabbing’

Rob Pelinka and Magic Johnson

"I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball, saying those things now were said to them outside of basketball. Now it's in the media and so on".

Johnson later added when asked who betrayed him in the Lakers organization: "If you are going to talk betrayal, it's only with Rob".

The NBA legend said he made a decision to move on from the Lakers after team owner Jeanie Buss chose not to act on his recommendation to fire head coach Luke Walton during the season.

According to Johnson, "the straw that broke the camel's back" was when the Lakers overrode his decision to fire Luke Walton during the season. And I said listen, we gotta get a better coach.

The former Lakers star called out general manager Rob Pelinka, saying that he had been speaking about Johnson behind his back to other employees.

We went back and forth like that, then she brought Tim Harris into the meeting. Tim wanted to keep him because he was friends with Luke. "When I looked up and said, 'Wait a minute, I only really answer to Jeanie Buss (and) now I've got Tim involved.' And I said, 'It's time for me to go'". That I wasn't in the office enough and on and on. I don't have the power I thought I had to make decisions. "I got things happening that was being said behind my back, I don't have the power that I thought I had to make the decisions, and I told them, 'When it's not fun for me, when I think that I don't have the decision-making power that I thought I had, then it's time to step aside'". But he said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss approved that plan when hiring him. Beyond Pelinka's alleged treachery, Johnson said he believes Buss has too many people in the organization trying to tell her what to do. Because I didn't like that Tim Harris [Lakers executive] was too involved in basketball. When the two sides couldn't come to an agreement, the Lakers were left to deal with the fallout of their players knowing they had been deemed expendable. Jeanie [Buss has] gotta stop that. People have to remember something. I had been doing that for months. "Is that OK with you?' She said yes", Johnson said. "That was supposed to be me as the president, having that final say". Buss considered various options, including filling Johnson's job, but chose to rely on Pelinka.

"No, just Rob. Other people didn't bother me..."

"They felt they should have been in powerful positions, whether that's the general manager or the president", Johnson said. So, I said, 'OK, let's go do it.' She said, 'I'm going to put you with Rob Pelinka, ' because I didn't know Rob.

Walton parted ways with Los Angeles when it became clear he was on the verge of being fired before Johnson quit. Kurt Rambis remains with the team as a special advisor. "I said, I'm going to be in and out". "He's gonna be in that room recruiting".



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