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Magic Johnson steps down as Los Angeles Lakers chief

11 April 2019

"I've been talking to people, we've been talking about next year, and I'm sitting there saying, 'I'm not going to be here,"' Johnson said with a smile.

Buss has been a strong proponent of Walton but previously said she planned to let Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka decide his future, according to ESPN.

"I'm a free bird and I've been handcuffed and I don't like that", the 59-year-old said during a press conference on Tuesday.

"I hope that after (the season ends), the Lakers can head in the right direction, which we are".

The Atlantic's Bill Oram was there when Johnson made his comments during what was described as an "impromptu press conference".

He told reporters he was stepping down in order to preserve his friendship with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss, describing her as "like a sister".

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"We love Luke [Walton], so I got to make a decision and that's a tough thing", Johnson said.

Johnson was handed organizational control as team president in February 2017 and helped the Lakers land superstar LeBron James as a free agent. Johnson said. "I'm going to go back to that attractive life and I'm looking forward to it. I cried before I came here", the NBA Hall of Famer said as he fought back tears.

Johnson played a big role in convincing the four-time MVP to sign for the Lakers in July, but LeBron's first season in purple and gold saw expectations and reality travel two very different paths. We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise - as a player, an ambassador and an executive.

Johnson retired in 1991 after he tested positive for HIV, but later returned briefly to the Lakers as a player and a coach. "He will always be not only a Lakers icon, but our family". When Ben Simmons called and we went through the proper channels and they made me look like the bad guy out of that situation but I didn't do anything wrong, I was thinking about all of those times, all the guys who want me to mentor them or be a part of their lives and I can't even do that. Johnson left the team in good shape financially, with plenty of cap space this summer to attempt to bring in another star to pair with James.

Johnson's abrupt departure shocked long-time Lakers observers. "Because I knew I would be crying like a baby in front of her".

Magic Johnson steps down as Los Angeles Lakers chief