Magic Johnson denies report he was toxic to Lakers

Magic Johnson refuted reports Tuesday that he was toxic to the Lakers’ organization.

The former team president denied mistreating employees, among other things, during an appearance on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

“Do you think (Lakers owner) Jeanie Buss would allow me to abuse the employees,” Johnson asked. “If that was the case, she would’ve called me in. (Lakers CFO) Joe McCormack would’ve called me in, the lawyer for the Lakers. As well as Dan, the other lawyer. It never happened. I’m a person that brings everybody together. Uplift the employees. I’ve never abused an employee, and I never will. That’s not what I’m all about.”

Johnson also responded to the idea that he didn’t put enough effort into running basketball operations for the team.

“Lazy? I have built a $600 million business,” Johnson said. “You cannot be lazy going from playing basketball and winning five championships. So I wasn’t lazy as a player, and I’m not lazy as a CEO and a business owner. That’s never going to happen.”

Johnson said he believed Lakers staff members didn’t like his honesty and that he held them accountable.

“Did I have to fire some people? Yes,” Johnson said. “Because we had to bring about change and get better. The Lakers got a great staff. What’s got to happen now, is we got to get out of the news.”

Johnson reportedly didn’t take kindly to working with general manager Rob Pelinka who once served as Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s agent.

“I would’ve hired my own people from the beginning,” Johnson said. “The one thing I didn’t get to do is hire everybody that I wanted.”

Johnson called an impromptu meeting with media in April to step down from his front office position. The Lakers finished 2018-19 with a 37-45 record and missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season. They are reportedly looking to sign a top free agent this summer and has the No. 4 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.