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Magic Johnson stepped down as Lakers president in the most bizarre way possible

He did it at a surprise press conference, before even informing Jeanie Buss.

2019 NBA All-Star Game Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Magic Johnson announced he will step down as the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations. He delivered the news himself in an unscheduled 45-minute press conference before the Lakers’ season finale on Tuesday, telling the world before even told his own boss.

“I think that with [Jeanie Buss] and I, I want to always preserve our relationship with her,” he said. “And I think I had more fun when I was able to the be big brother and ambassador.”

Johnson confirmed he did not inform Buss of his decision before announcing it.

He then lingered, looking to find Buss. When told she would not be attending the game, he then addressed the media again.

Calling the decision to resign a “monkey off my back,” Johnson admitted he was “happier” when he was not the Lakers’ president.

He admitted that he was especially stung when a comment about Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons reaching out for advice to improve his game turned into a tampering investigation. He did not always seem invested in the job, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As Silver Screen and Roll’s Christian Rivas wrote:

In spite of having early success starting with the 2017 NBA Draft, where the team was able to pick up Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant, it appears as though the job was harder than Johnson anticipated it to be.

Like the front office regime before him, Johnson was banking on the luster of the Lakers to lure free agents to Los Angeles and while he was able to sign LeBron James — the biggest fish in the pond — last summer, every move he’s made since then has been subject to strong but warranted criticism, including his decision to let Thomas Bryant, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez walk in free agency, his decision not to pair James with shooters and most recently his decision to trade Ivica Zubac to the LA Clippers for Mike Muscala.

Johnson took over the Lakers’ front office from Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss in February of 2017. His tenure was defined by cap-clearing moves that eventually secured LeBron James, followed by a disastrous offseason and 2018-19 campaign that ended in another losing record, multiple fines for tampering, and the embarrassing Anthony Davis saga.

So what happens now?

It’s unclear. Johnson’s announcement appears to have been a surprise to others with the Lakers as well.

Johnson and Walton have reportedly clashed all season, which was widely expected to lead to a coaching change in the summer. Johnson initially denied the decision to step down was explicitly due to those disagreements, but later admitted he didn’t feel comfortable having to potentially make a new coaching hire.

The future of general manager Rob Pelinka is also unclear. Johnson did not offer him much of an endorsement.

But Johnson did express optimism about the franchise’s future, joking that Buss will get tons of calls about the position.