Magic Johnson shockingly steps down as Lakers president

Magic Johnson shockingly stepped down as the Lakers president of basketball operations Tuesday before the team’s final game of the season.

Johnson called an impromptu press conference Tuesday where he announced the news. He said part of the reason he made the decision was to maintain his relationship with Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.

“I think that with (Jeanie) and I, I want to always preserve my relationship with her,” Johnson said. “And I think I had more fun when I was able to the be big brother and ambassador.”

Johnson said he wanted to be available to players who seek his mentorship, something he could not do in his position with Los Angeles.

“I was thinking about all those times, all the guys who want me to be a mentor, be a part of their lives and I can’t even do that,” Johnson said. “I have more fun on the other side than on this side. … I want to go back to having fun. I want to go back to who I was before taking on this job.”

Johnson spoke with the media before discussing his resignation with Buss.

The Lakers entered the season with high expectations after they signed star LeBron James to a four-year, $153.3 million contract in July. They opened with a 20-14 record, but James suffered a strained groin on Dec. 25. He missed the next 17 games and the team never recovered.

The Lakers also dealt with injuries to key role players — including Lonzo Ball, Rajon Rondo, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart — and they shut down James for the rest of 2018-19 in late March.

Los Angeles was widely expected to move on from coach Luke Walton this offseason and he believed he’d be fired after the game against the Trail Blazers, according to ESPN. But, Walton’s job status is now uncertain following Johnson’s announcement, the report says.

Johnson took over in the Lakers front office in February 2017. Los Angeles has now missed the playoffs for six straight seasons.