Magic Johnson stunned the basketball world when he announced that he was stepping down as president of the Los Angeles Lakers in an unplanned news conference before the team's season finale Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Johnson's meeting with the assembled media lasted nearly an hour, not including the follow-up one-on-one interviews and gatherings after he ended his initial session. He talked about his decision to step down, the Lakers' quest to add a second superstar this summer, his relationship with team owner Jeanie Buss, returning to a role as a basketball ambassador ... and Twitter, among many other things.
Here were some of the most notable quotes from Johnson on Tuesday.
I love [Jeanie Buss] as a sister. So today I'm going to step down as the president. Her and I have such an amazing relationship. She gave me full power to do what I wanted to do. But I think, with her and I, I want to always preserve our relationship. I think I had more fun when I was able to be the big brother and ambassador to everybody. I thought about Dwyane Wade retiring tomorrow and I can't even tweet it out or be there.
Now with the fines and the tampering and the this and the that, I can't help young men who want me to help them. Or I can't tweet out. Like Russell Westbrook, that was a great feat the other day. I couldn't even tweet it out to say, 'Hey congratulations.' If I had did that, everyone would have said he's tampering. I don't like that. I like to be free.
Earvin, I loved working side by side with you. You've brought us a long way. We will continue the journey. We love you ���� https://t.co/ofmQl6BtBz
- Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) April 10, 2019
Damn, I got a great life outside of this. What the ... what am I doing? I got a beautiful life. I'm going back to that beautiful life. I'm looking forward to it. Somebody gonna have to tell my boss because I know she gonna be sick, but I know I couldn't face her, face to face and tell her. Even though I was just with her yesterday. We had a three-hour meeting about the direction of this great organization. So today, Rachel [Nichols], I'm free my love.
[The Anthony Davis situation] had nothing to do with it. We want to improve the team. That's what my job is to do. Then you guys made it like, 'Oh the young guys.' The young guys better grow up quick. Because this is a part of basketball, this is a part of sports. This is a part of life. When you enter into professional sports and you enter to the NBA, your name will always be mentioned sometimes in trades. And you have to deal with that. Just play your ass [off] and go play. Credit to them, they did that. It took them a week or two to get over it, but before Brandon Ingram got hurt, he was playing unbelievable. He put together what, three weeks or two weeks, that's the Brandon, if he can get to that level and stay there consistently next year, he'd be like an All-Star.
This is good times for me. Tomorrow it's going to be, 'Ugh, Magic this.' I hope it comes out right. I had a great time. I want to thank my sister for allowing me to do this. I couldn't face her to tell her so I had to do it this way because we love each other so much.
Sometimes as a president, you have to have a tough meeting with a coach. We had a tough meeting. And after that it was fine. It's been fine. I haven't had any problems with Luke. People think we have problems, but we haven't had any problem. just because I want us to be better and I want him to be better. If I'd had come back, we'd all have to be better. Right? I made mistakes myself. But, also, too, everybody had to be better.
[Asked if he wanted to see Walton remain as head coach] That's up to Jeanie. That will be up to if she is going to make that call. See what she wants to do. Again, he has to get better. The team has to get better. If I had to stay, I had to get better. We all had to get better, but we're heading in the right direction.
This is great, being the president of the Lakers is special. I'm telling you right now. I just wish I was in her office tomorrow when the phones start ringing. Right? Because it is going to ring for a long time.
You had to give up a very talented player in D'Angelo Russell and congratulations to him making the All-Star team. I couldn't even say that but now I can say it. Also, we saw D'Angelo mature. He wasn't matured like he is now. He always had the talent to score, but he was immature. Now he's grown up and that is why he is an All-Star. But with the cap space, we were able to get LeBron. We only had money for one-year deals. Shooters were getting three-year offers so they weren't going to take our one-year deal when they can get a three-year deal. We understood that.
I would just tell [LeBron James] I'm going back to my community work, that's important to me. I missed a lot of it. [Local CBS sportscaster] Jim [Hill] and I cried together at Crenshaw High School. When Nipsey [Hussle] died, I said, 'That's who I am, in the community.' I want to complete what I started there.
I'm a free bird and I've been handcuffed and I don't like that.