The Los Angeles Lakers have removed Magic Johnson’s ceremonial title of Vice President of the franchise and taken him off the staff directory. Johnson, who some consider to be the greatest Laker of all-time, led the purple and gold during the “Showtime” era and brought five championships to Los Angeles.
The move was reportedly made at Johnson’s request. The Hall-of-Famer likes to express his opinion about the team and ownership via social media, and there was some confusion over whether his statements were representing the franchise or himself. Lakers spokesman John Black issued a statement to announce the change:
“Earvin will always be a revered and beloved member of the Lakers family, but he does not have a position or role with the organization at the time. He is not an adviser or a consultant, and his opinions, comments and social media posts are solely his, and do not represent or reflect those of Lakers ownership or management. Hopefully this will eliminate any confusion over this issue in the future.”
Johnson has been a frequent critic of Jim Buss, who holds the title of Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations. He considers Buss to be part of the reason for the recent struggles of the team. Johnson was also not a fan of the hiring of Mike D’Antoni and celebrated his departure on Twitter when he left the organization in 2014.
However, it has been speculated that the pressing issue was Johnson’s tendency to recommend players for the Lakers to pursue. As a representative of the team, he ran the risk of violating tampering rules whenever he publicly suggested that the Lakers pursue a player who is currently under contract with another team. Players do not officially become free agents until July 1st, so if Johnson makes a comment about the Lakers attempting to sign, for example, Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, that could be construed as tampering because Durant’s contract with the Thunder is not up yet.
Regardless, the move will give Johnson the freedom to speak his mind, and will take away the Lakers’ concerns about incurring tampering charges. Johnson will always be a beloved Lakers legend, and whether or not he has a ceremonial title with the organization doesn’t do anything to change that.