In an impromptu press conference Tuesday evening, Magic Johnson made the startling announcement that he's immediately stepping down as Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations.
"It's a difficult decision. I cried before I came here," said Johnson, according to ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk and Dave McMenamin. "I am about to cry now. It's hard when you love an organization the way I love this organization. It's hard when you love a person like I love (owner) Jeanie (Buss). I don't want to disappoint her."
Johnson admitted he didn't inform general manager Rob Pelinka or Buss of his decision to resign, adding that he wasn't able to face the owner.
"I was happier when I wasn't president ... I want to go back to having fun and go back to being who I was before taking on this job," added Johnson.
The Lakers released a statement Tuesday night, expressing their gratitude for Johnson's service and promising a measured approach to finding a replacement.
There is no greater Los Angeles Laker than Earvin Johnson. We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise – as a player, an ambassador and an executive.
We thank him for his work these past two years as our President of Basketball Operations and wish him, Cookie, Andre, EJ and Elisa all the best with their next steps. He will always be not only a Lakers icon, but our family.
As we begin the process of moving forward, we will work in a measured and methodical fashion to make the right moves for the future of our organization.
Johnson said he's looking forward to returning to an ambassador role and interacting with players, free of controversy.
In February, the NBA conducted an investigation into whether the Lakers made inappropriate contact with Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons. Johnson had previously mentioned that Simmons reached out to him for mentoring this summer, but due to his position with the Lakers and a history of tampering fines, the league stepped in to ensure there weren't any violations.
"When Ben Simmons called and we went through the proper channels and they made me look like the bad guy out of that situation, but I didn't do anything wrong ... I was thinking about all those times, all those guys who want me to mentor them or be a part of their lives, and I can't even do that. I had more fun on the other side," said Johnson, per TNT.
The Hall of Famer was hired in February 2017 following the dismissal of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss. Some of his more noteworthy moves include signing LeBron James to a four-year contract, drafting Lonzo Ball second overall in 2017, and trading D'Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and Kyle Kuzma.
Los Angeles entered Tuesday's matchup with the visiting Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center with a 37-44 record, ensuring the club will miss the playoffs for a sixth consecutive season.