Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James didn’t believe it when he was told Magic Johnson had stepped down as president of basketball operations for the Lakers.
In his first public comments since Johnson decided to leave the Lakers in April before the season ended, James relayed the story of how he found out from Randy Mims, James’ chief of staff.
"My right hand comes to me and says, ‘Magic just stepped down,' " James said on HBO’s The Shop, which aired Saturday. "I’m like, 'You mean from out of his car? Get the (expletive) out of my face.' … He’s like, 'Go check your phone.' "
James, who was in the Lakers’ locker room but not playing in that night’s game, checked his phone. Indeed, Johnson held an impromptu and bizarre news conference, informing reporters of his resignation.
"No one had no idea," James said on his show. "We were like, 'Damn, like right now?' It was literally 70 minutes on the clock before (the game). I’m not playing, but my team is still playing, and you kind of decide to do that right here, right now. I feel like there’s a time and place for things, and I believe that you knew that you were going to make that decision, so why would you do it here and why would you do it now?"
Magic Johnson stepped down as Lakers president of basketball operations in a bizarre impromptu press conference in April. (Photo: Richard Mackson, USA TODAY Sports)
James didn’t use the word betrayal, but it’s clear he was stunned and disappointed Johnson resigned. Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka met with James just days before Johnson’s announcement, and James didn’t get the impression Johnson was about to step down. USA TODAY Sports reported at the time that James was stunned, but James acknowledged it directly on his show.
"Personally for me, I came here to be a part of the Lakers organization, having a conversation with Magic (last summer) and really kind of breaking it down and saying how we were going to make this 'Showtime' again, and I wanted to be part of that process," James said.
"He explained to me Year 1 is going to be tough. … But I was OK with the process. At Year 16, you aren’t really supposed to be worrying about no damn process, especially for me because I’m in championship-mind mode all the time.
"So it was just weird for him to just be like, 'I'm out of here' and not even have no like, 'Hey Bron, kiss my (expletive). I’m out of here.' I would’ve been OK with that. 'Hey Bron, it’s Magic. Kiss my (expletive), I’m gone.' Not even that."
After the regular season concluded, the Lakers fired coach Luke Walton, and by all indications, they are going to hire James' former coach in Cleveland, Tyronn Lue, who played for the Lakers.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
Source: Read Full Article