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Magic Johnson accuses LA Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka of criticising him behind his back

Tuesday 21 May 2019 05:25, UK

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 10: Owner Magic Johnson of Los Angeles Lakers arrives to the game against the Philadelphia 76ers on February 10, 2019 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Image: Magic Johnson quit as the Lakers' team president on April 9

Magic Johnson says his shock resignation as the Los Angeles Lakers team president came after general manager Rob Pelinka criticised him behind his back.

Johnson walked away from the Lakers on April 9, minutes before their final regular-season match, without telling controlling owner Jeanie Buss of his intentions.

Pelinka has since replaced Johnson as team president, but the five-time NBA champion told ESPN: "Things got going in the right direction, [but] then I started hearing, 'Magic, you're not working hard enough', 'Magic's not in the office'.

"So people around the Lakers office was telling me Rob was saying things and I didn't like this being said behind my back; that I wasn't in the office enough and on and on.

Rich Paul and Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka speak before the game between New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakerson February 27, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California.
Image: Rob Pelinka used to work as an agent before becoming the Lakers' GM in 2017

"So I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball, saying those things now were said to them. [It was] Not just in the Lakers office anymore, [but] outside of basketball, in the media and so on.

"People have to remember something; being in this business 40 years, I have allies, I've got friends everywhere."

Johnson revealed he also had to deal with Joey and Jesse Buss, the youngest children of the late owner Jerry Buss.

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"I had to monitor the brothers - Joey and Jesse - [who] wanted more involvement, more power. I said I didn't mind doing that. They're good guys.

"I sat them down and said I'm going to help you guys mature and get better. They felt they should have been in powerful positions, whether that's general manager or president."

Jeanie Buss
Image: Jeanie Buss is the controlling owner of the Lakers and was close to Johnson

Johnson said the final straw came when the Lakers' owners agreed with his decision to fire head coach Luke Walton, before withdrawing their support.

"I wanted to fire Luke Walton; I said we need to get a better coach," said Johnson.

"Now I've got [team vice president] Tim [Harris] involved. I don't have the power that I thought I had to make the decisions.

"I told them, 'When it's not fun for me, when I don't have the decision-making power that I thought I had, I've got to step aside.'"

Walton was ultimately fired and replaced by Frank Vogel, who is due to be introduced to the media on Monday.