Magic Johnson abruptly quit as the Los Angeles Lakers' president of basketball operations Tuesday night, citing his desire to return to the simpler life he enjoyed as a wealthy businessman and beloved former player before taking charge of this franchise just over two years ago. Johnson didn't tell owner Jeanie Buss or general manager Rob Pelinka about his shocking decision before he announced it in front of reporters about 90 minutes before the final game of the Lakers' sixth consecutive losing season, the AP reports. Los Angeles was 37-44 heading into its game against Portland, missing the playoffs yet again despite the offseason addition of LeBron James. "I want to go back to having fun," Johnson said, fighting off tears. "I want to go back to being who I was before taking on this job."
Johnson didn't directly tie his decision to the future of Luke Walton, but the third-year coach was widely expected to be fired by Johnson. Without using names, Johnson repeatedly mentioned Buss' affinity for Walton, who was in place before Johnson got the job in February 2017, and Johnson's desire not to cause upheaval between the owner and her chosen coach. "(On Wednesday) I would have to affect somebody's livelihood and their life," Johnson said. "And I thought about it and I said, 'That's not fun for me. That's not who I am.'" Johnson and Buss had a three-hour meeting Monday about the direction of the Lakers, who haven't made the postseason since 2013. He also said he is tired of being investigated or fined by the NBA for tampering when he comments on basketball on Twitter or even speaks to another organization's player. (Read more Magic Johnson stories.)