Nobody saw this coming.
Not owner Jeanie Buss, not GM Rob Pelinka, not coach Luke Walton — nobody expected Magic Johnson’s sudden resignation from the Lakers just before the end of the season.
That includes LeBron James (as NBC and others reported at the time). LeBron opened up about what happened for the first time on his HBO show “The Shop” (which will air in repeats all week, check your listings).
“Personally, for me, I came here to be a part of the Lakers organization having a conversation with Magic. So it was just weird for [Johnson] to just be like, ‘Nah, I’m out of here.’ And not even have no like [LeBron acts like he’s taking a phone call]: ‘Hey, Bron, kiss my a** I’m gone.’ It wasn’t even that.”
Later in The Shop LeBron says:
“We were like, ‘Damn, right now?’ It was literally 70 minutes on the clock before [the game starts]… And you decide to do that right here, right now? I feel like there’s a time and place for things, and I believe that you knew you were going to make that decision. So why would you do it here? And why would you do it now?”
A lot of people were asking that question.
Lonzo Ball said on this same episode of The Shop he found out from LeBron (and LeBron found out from his close friend just more than an hour before a Lakers game, which is when Magic made his announcement).
Magic handled this poorly. To put it kindly. S*** show would be another way. The Lakers have given power to Rob Pelinka, who is leading the effort to hire the next coach — which is all but certain be Tyronn Lue, LeBron’s old coach in Cleveland and someone he trusts.
Magic’s move and the fallout are not exactly going to inspire confidence in the free agents the Lakers are trying to recruit this summer. What the Lakers still do have is LeBron and the chance to play — and probably win a fair amount — with him. We’ll see if that’s enough.