There was an apparent major fracture within the Los Angeles Lakers front office as former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson believes that general manager Rob Pelinka was ‘backstabbing’ him.
When Johnson suddenly stepped down from his position, it was assumed that something had to have happened to force him to make that decision and he revealed those issues.
Johnson and Pelinka always appeared to be on the same page in public and there were never any hints of dissension between the two. For his part, Pelinka took the high road when asked about Johnson’s comments during the team’s introductory press conference for head coach Frank Vogel.
Johnson continued to speak about his apparent issues, saying that if Pelinka had any kind of problem with him, he could’ve came to him rather than tell others within the Lakers organization, according to Broderick Turner of Los Angeles Times:
“So, that’s who I was talking about when I said backstabber. Just you got to be a stand-up guy, a stand-up person,” Johnson told the Los Angeles Times. “If you got a problem with me or something I’m doing, just come and tell me. So, to get messages around the Lakers organization from different people within the Lakers organization, getting calls from people around the league saying this is what [Pelinka] is saying to people, ‘I’m not working hard. I’m never there [in the office].’ I couldn’t stand for that. …”
Everyone has their breaking point and this was it for Johnson. He believes that Pelinka wasn’t upfront about his issues with him and it would be hard for anyone to work with someone who they believe is bad mouthing them behind their back.
Of course, this is simply Johnson’s word versus that of Pelinka, but he insists that he is being truthful in everything that he says:
“So, yes, everything was true what I said about Rob, ’cause I’m only going to tell the truth. That’s who I am always going to be is a person who will be up front.”
This continues to be a negative look for the Lakers as they try to move forward ahead of this important offseason. The Lakers should be focused on the 2019 NBA Draft and free agency and trying to improve this team, but much of the attention is on whether or not Pelinka is trustworthy.
Owner Jeanie Buss had reportedly asked Johnson in the wake of his resignation if there were any issues between him and Pelinka. Johnson said nothing, so these accusations come as something of a shock to the Lakers. Without a doubt, Los Angeles will be happy when they’re able to move on from all of this.