The Los Angeles Lakers have named Hall of Famer Magic Johnson as their new president of basketball operations, a stunning move that finds one of the greatest players in NBA history returning to work for the team that he helped lead to glory, but that has fallen on hard times over the last few seasons. The team also fired longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak and executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss.
"Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect," Lakers president and co-owner Jeanie Buss, and sister of the now-former executive vice president of basketball operations, said in a statement. The move, elevating the man who helped lead the Lakers to five NBA titles during the "Showtime" era, while firing the son of the late owner and brother of the current owner, sent shockwaves across the NBA.
With a record of 19-39, the Lakers have the third-worst record in the league and the second-worst record in the Western Conference, but with a core of young players, the team looks to be rebuilding in the post-Kobe Bryant era.
The next plot twist being, of course, Bryant himself coming back to the team in some capacity. Johnson, who was serving as an advisor to Buss and the team before his promotion, recently said, "First call I make if I'm in charge? Kobe Bryant." His reason was simple: "Because Kobe understands winning. He understands, also, these players. And so, I would call [and say], 'What role you want, bro? If you've got a day, just give me that day.'"
In a statement, Johnson said, "It's a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family." He added. "Since 1979, I've been a part of the Laker Nation and I'm passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions."