LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Magic Johnson is stepping down as president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson, 59, replaced Jim Buss as president of basketball operations on Feb. 21, 2017.
Johnson made the announcement on Tuesday.
The news came as a surprise, including to Jeanie Buss, controlling owner and president of the Lakers, reports CBSLA Sports Director Jim Hill.
“Somebody’s gonna have to tell my boss,” Johnson said. “I know she’s gonna be sick but I know I couldn’t face her face-to-face, even though I was just with her yesterday. We had like a three-hour meeting about the direction (of the team).”
Johnson said he had already made up his mind to step down from the post, but kept the news to himself until he spoke to reporters Tuesday night.
“I’ve been talking to people, we’ve been talking about next year, and I’m sitting there saying, ‘I’m not going to be here,”’ Johnson said with a smile.
About 2 1/2 hours after Johnson’s announcement Buss tweeted “Earvin, I loved working side by side with you. You’ve brought us a long way. We will continue the journey. We love you,” followed by purple and gold hearts, symbolizing the team’s colors.
“Her and I have such an amazing relationship and I think that she gave me full power to do what I wanted to do. But I think that with her and I, I want to always preserve that relationship and love her and then. I had more fun when I was able to be the big brother. The ambassador to everybody,” said Johnson, adding that he had “more fun on the other side then on this side.”
The Lakers organization released a statement, expressing gratitude for his tenure and thanking him. The statement said that Johnson “will always be not only a Lakers icon, but our family.”
The Lakers lost to Portland 104-101 to finish the season 37-45, missing the NBA playoffs for the sixth consecutive season, despite signing perennial all-star forward LeBron James in the offseason.
They had missed the playoffs five times in their 65 seasons preceding the current streak.
Johnson’s appointment coincided with the firing of Mitch Kupchak as general manager and the announcement that co-owner Jim Buss, a brother of Jeanie Buss, would no longer be executive vice president of basketball operations when the team had a 19-39 record.
At the time, Jeanie Buss said she hoped the moves would “return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightfully expect,” referring to her late father, under whom the Lakers won 10 NBA championships, including five with Johnson as the point guard of the teams known as the Showtime Lakers.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)