Magic's bizarre resignation leaves others to clean up his mess
Ethan Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty

You can't make this stuff up.

Though the 2018-19 Los Angeles Lakers still had one more game to play Tuesday night, the absurdity of their disappointing season was supposed to have subsided weeks ago. They'd been out of playoff contention since March 22, and LeBron James had joined Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma on the sidelines nine days later.

And yet, in an ending befitting their chaotic campaign, the Lakers once again found themselves at the center of attention on Tuesday, when Magic Johnson held an impromptu media scrum before the season finale to announce he was stepping down as president of basketball operations.

If you missed that scrum, here's a quick recap of what a teary-eyed Johnson said:

  • He loves Lakers owner Jeanie Buss like a sister, so he couldn't bring himself to tell her he wanted out. "Somebody's going to have to tell my boss, because I know she's going to be sick."
  • He wants to be able to mentor young stars like Ben Simmons when they ask and tweet about the greatness of players like Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook without the worry of tampering or being labeled "the bad guy."
  • He insinuated he would have fired Lakers head coach Luke Walton after the season - "I would have to affect someone's livelihood and their life tomorrow" - without mentioning Walton by name. Magic added that he knows Buss "has great love for him (Walton)."
  • He didn't know Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, who was Kobe Bryant's former agent, until Buss paired them together in L.A.'s front office.
  • Ditching this job is like getting a monkey off his back. "I've got a beautiful life. So, I'm going to go back to that beautiful life. And I'm looking forward to it … I'm a free bird, and I've been handcuffed."
  • He and Buss had a three-hour meeting on Monday about the direction of the franchise. And while in discussions with others about the Lakers' future, Johnson apparently thought to himself, "Uhh … I'm not gonna be here."
  • He isn't disappointed by any move he made as Lakers president and believes the team is one player away from being a West finalist.
Andrew D. Bernstein / National Basketball Association / Getty

It was a whirlwind resignation that was somehow even more bizarre than Johnson's tumultuous two-year tenure in charge.

During that time, he was hit with multiple tampering charges for public comments about Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo. He surrounded James with the most ill-fitting supporting cast possible and then defended the post-LeBron transactions by saying tough-guy teams had fared better than shooting teams in the previous postseason. He also disparaged D'Angelo Russell's leadership skills after trading him to the Nets, only to see Russell blossom into an All-Star and help bring Brooklyn to the playoffs for the first time in four years.

And we haven't even mentioned letting Brook Lopez and Julius Randle walk in free agency before trading away Ivica Zubac.

Despite landing James last summer, it became painfully obvious rather quickly that the Hall of Fame point guard was out of his depth as a team president.

With his decision to step down, Johnson can now go back to his life as a beloved former athlete and humanitarian while overseeing his various business interests and reassuming his role as Basketball Twitter's Captain Obvious with terrible takes.

The Lakers, meanwhile, continue to plunge further into the type of dysfunctional abyss the franchise had avoided for decades. Can they escape from such organizational chaos? Sure. As Johnson noted during his media address, the Lakers are "halfway there" simply by having James in the fold. And perhaps Johnson's departure is just the type of spark Buss needs to clean house and restore order.

Then again, that's what she was supposed to be doing when she fired her brother and replaced him with a Lakers legend in Johnson two years ago. That's what the franchise was supposed to be doing when it lured James to Los Angeles last summer.

It turns out Johnson couldn't do it. A 34-year-old James, hobbled by injury, couldn't do it, at least in Year 1. Who's up next?

Magic's bizarre resignation leaves others to clean up his mess
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