Magic slams Pelinka, Lakers; says last straw was inability to fire Walton
Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association / Getty

Magic Johnson went into far more detail on Monday than can be provided in a 280-character tweet, speaking freely on the circumstances surrounding his resignation last month as president of the Los Angeles Lakers.

In an hour-long appearance on ESPN's "First Take," Johnson took aim at Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and what he perceived as backstabbing.

"I started hearing, 'I'm not working hard enough, Magic's not in the office,'" Johnson said. "So people around the Lakers office was telling me, 'Rob was saying things' ... and I didn't like those things being said behind my back. So I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball, saying those things now were said to them."

Johnson said he had no previous relationship with Pelinka, who was an NBA agent for players such as Kobe Bryant before being hired by the Lakers alongside Johnson in 2017.

"What was crazy was, when I took the job, you know how many agents called me, and said, 'You got to watch out for (Pelinka)?'" Johnson said.

The NBA legend said he decided to move on from the Lakers after team owner Jeanie Buss chose not to act on his recommendation to fire head coach Luke Walton during the season.

"The straw that broke the camel's back was I wanted to fire Luke Walton," he said. "I showed (Buss) the things he did well and the things he didn't do well. And I said, 'Listen, we gotta get a better coach.'"

Johnson said he wanted to hire Tyronn Lue as head coach, but that Buss decided not to dismiss Walton, who ended up parting ways with the Lakers after the season ended.

"We went back and forth like that, and then she brought (Lakers COO) Tim Harris into the meeting ... and Tim wanted to keep him ... because he was friends with (Walton). When I looked up and said, 'Wait a minute, I only really answer to Jeanie Buss (and) now I've got Tim involved.' And I said, 'It's time for me to go.'"

Johnson ultimately resigned at an impromptu press conference before the Lakers' season finale on April 9. Beyond Pelinka's alleged treachery, Johnson said he believes Buss has too many people in the organization trying to tell her what to do.

"If you're going to talk betrayal, it's only with Rob," he said. "I didn't like that Tim Harris was too involved in basketball. He's supposed to run the Laker business ... Jeanie's gotta stop that ... there's too many people at the table."

He also believes former Lakers coach and Buss's former fiance, Phil Jackson, still advises her.

"You can't run a corporation like this," Johnson said.

Johnson added that he would not have approached the Lakers' failed midseason attempt to trade for Anthony Davis any differently.

"You have to do that for Anthony Davis," he said. "I told (then-New Orleans Pelicans GM) Dell Demps, 'Let's keep (trade talks) private,' but Dell didn't do that."

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Magic slams Pelinka, Lakers; says last straw was inability to fire Walton
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