There's no denying that Magic Johnson is the reason why LeBron James currently plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. In 2018, Johnson won James over with a well-prepared speech and bid to take the reigns of the purple and gold franchise. At that time, the Lakers were going through a rebuilding phase, but Johnson had a plan to help LeBron contend for a title in L.A. in less than two years.
True enough, James eventually was put in a position to contend, and he delivered on his promise by leading the Lakers to a championship. However, James' monumental achievement happened without Johnson by his side — which, as mentioned above, was the reason why the 4-time champion took his talents to Los Angeles in the first place.
Magic regrets not telling LeBron he was going to step down
At the last Lakers game of the 2018 season at home, Johnson took everyone by surprise after conducting a last-minute media press conference where he declared his resignation. What was even more surprising was that Johnson didn't inform his circle, including Rob Pelinka, Jeanie Buss, and even LeBron James, about his sudden decision to step down. This obviously caught James and the Lakers brass by surprise, but according to Magic, it was a decision he needed to make.
As 3 years went by, Johnson eventually admitted that how he approached his resignation was a mistake. He knows he should've informed James about his resignation — a decision he admittedly made in the first place because he wanted Luke Walton (the Lakers' coach at that time) fired.
"I regret not calling LeBron and telling him that I was stepping down. I owed him that," Johnson said in his latest appearance on the "Club Shay Shay" podcast. "I wanted to fire Luke Walton... I said, 'Hey, we gotta let him go. He is not the right guy.'... and they wanted to keep him and I said okay. I didn't want to fracture the great relationship I had with Jeanie Buss... So instead of me just sitting there, I said let me just exit, it's gonna be best for everybody and I felt some dude wanted to be in the seat that I had," Johnson added.
Johnson and Rob Pelinka's complicated relationship
Aside from the status of Walton, Johnson has subtly implied a couple of times that his working relationship with general manager Rob Pelinka wasn't always smooth. Johnson even went as far as appearing on ESPN'S First Take to air out Pelinka's dirty laundry and call him a backstabber. Since then, it was obvious that the 5-time champion and current Lakers general manager butted heads more often than we think.
Ultimately, for as much criticism Pelinka has received over the past couple of seasons, he will be the one to get more credit for the 2020 Lakers title. After all, it was Pelinka who assembled the roster without Johnson's services, and while the latter may have brought James to L.A., his spontaneous resignation will always be associated with his tenure as the Lakers' president of basketball operations.