When Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson took over as the president of basketball operations during the 2016-17 NBA season, he vowed to get them back into championship contention within two seasons or he would step down.
Johnson was a pioneer in getting LeBron James to sign with the Lakers last summer but before he could deliver the second All-Star player he promised, he stepped down at the end of the 2018-19 season.
While Johnson wasn’t able to do it, general manager Rob Pelinka was as the Lakers reportedly completed a trade to acquire Anthony Davis, sending Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and a number of draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Despite him parting ways from the organization, Johnson still has endless love for the Lakers in his heart and he celebrated the trade just like all of the other Lakers fans, according to Broderick Turner of Los Angeles Times:
“I came out and my phone was just blowing up and people were stopping me and saying, ‘Are you happy?’ I didn’t know what they were talking about,” Johnson said Saturday afternoon. ““They were jumping up and down and everybody hugged me. This is the greatest news any Laker fan could receive. Anthony Davis is a Laker. Wow! Watch out! Watch out! We are back, baby.”
One of the reasons that Johnson stepped down was because of his broken relationship with Pelinka, who he claimed stabbed him in the back. It is unclear what terms they currently are on, but Johnson still congratulated Pelinka for delivering Davis to Los Angeles, according to Turner:
“Our leaders stepped up for the L.A. fans base and for LeBron,” Johnson said. “And despite what Rob and I have gone through, I want to congratulate him. He pulled off a major trade for the Lakers, and just congratulations to him. We’re back, we’re back, we’re back where we should be and in the championship hunt …
While acquiring Davis and pairing him with James is obviously a huge move for a team with championship aspirations, the Lakers offseason is just beginning as they still likely plan to pursue max free agents like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Jimmy Butler, and Kemba Walker.
If they do get a third All-Star-caliber player, then Los Angeles has to be considered the favorite to win the 2020 NBA Finals. While Johnson didn’t stick around to see the fruits of his labor, he will surely get some of the credit for helping build that championship roster for some of the moves he made that allowed the Lakers to create a superteam.