CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Did the LeBron Effect finally get to Magic Johnson?
The face of the franchise (Magic, not LeBron), and the man who promised to fix one of the most storied organizations in all of sports, stunned Laker Nation and the NBA world by abruptly resigning as team president on Tuesday night.
It all went down just an hour before the Lakers’ season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Johnson, who won five NBA titles in 13 years as the leader of the Lakers, had returned to the franchise as president of basketball operations in February of 2017. A year and a half later, he had landed his top free agent, LeBron James, and promised to bring in many more stars. But the 2018-2019 season was full of drama and dysfunction for the Lakers.
The team went into Tuesday night’s finale with a record of 37-44, and had been eliminated from the playoffs in mid-March, the first time in 14 seasons that LeBron will miss out on the postseason.
Along the way, there were multiple rumors of multiple trades, causing a fracture among the team that was noticeable throughout the second half of the season, as LeBron sat at one end of the bench during timeouts, seemingly disengaged, while his teammates gathered at the other end.
Johnson, who said he hadn’t even told Lakers owner Jeannie Buss of his decision, had a very telling comment during his impromptu press conference on Tuesday: “What I didn’t like was the backstabbing and the whispering,” Magic said. “I didn’t like that. I didn’t like a lot of things that went on that didn’t have to go on.”
He also sounded like a man who didn’t want to make tough decisions, which likely would have included firing the coaching staff after the season. But let’s get back to the LeBron Effect.
Nobody in Northeast Ohio would trade those four phenomenal seasons with LeBron, all of which ended in trips to the Finals, and of course one championship, in 2016.
But the daily drama that goes with having LeBron on your team is incredibly draining. It led to frustrations among his Cavaliers teammates, it certainly seemed to lead to hard feelings among his Lakers teammates, and it just may have pushed Magic Johnson, one of the most beloved Lakers of all time, out the door.