Magic Johnson’s abrupt departure from his position as Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations seems shrouded in mystery to this day.
Over three years ago, Johnson announced his desire to leave the Lakers front office in an impromptu press conference, catching the franchise’s leadership by surprise. Only a year earlier, the “Showtime” era legend played a crucial role in signing LeBron James in free agency — while laying down the foundations for the Anthony Davis trade that would come through in July 2019.
“Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers” took a deeper look at the circumstances around Johnson’s shocking exit in the show’s latest episode. The Lakers icon makes an appearance himself, explaining how his intentions to fire then-head coach Luke Walton led to his exit, via NBA reporter Landon Buford:
Magic Johnson on why stepped down from @Lakers:
“I wanted to fire Luka Walton. I said Jeanie your man don’t have it. He doesn’t make adjustments with in the game. I hate to tell u that because I know you love him… Non basketball ppl say I can’t make those calls.”#LakersDoc pic.twitter.com/S3nDsY2kHl
— Landon Buford (@LandonBuford) October 10, 2022
Johnson recalls his conversation with Lakers president Jeanie Buss, telling her Walton didn’t have what it took to coach the Purple and Gold. He also expressed his skepticism over the head coach’s ability to improve in his role.
Johnson says the ensuing pushback he received from within the organization was a deal-breaker from him.
“Other people on the Lakers, non-basketball people were trying to tell me that I can’t make those calls,” he says. “To preserve the love and my friendship with Jeanie, I felt it was best to step down.”
The Lakers would eventually dismiss Walton on April 12, three days after Johnson’s bombshell press conference. The former Lakers head coach appears in the episode himself, describing his disappointment over the course his run with L.A. took.
He then explains that between the front office changes and trade rumors, he and the Lakers agreed that it would be best to part ways.
Buss wants ‘Legacy’ to tell Lakers’ true story
“Legacy” has been discussing the many issues the Lakers have been dealing with over the years, including the conflicts within the franchise and the Buss family.
Jeanie Buss, who serves as the show’s executive producer, has said Hulu’s series intentionally takes a deep look at the organization’s internal problems. “I want everybody to have an opportunity to tell their experience,” she said.
“And I want Laker fans, who know the wins and the losses, I want them to see the other side, the toll of losing, the toll of winning. … It’s not all just about championships and highlight film. It’s about the people who lived the story and their truth.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!