Reacting to an ESPN report earlier Tuesday that described a toxic culture in the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office, Magic Johnson denied mistreating any employees during his stint as team president that ended last month.
“Do you think Jeanie Buss would allow me to abuse the employees? If that was the case, she would have called me in. (Chief financial officer) Joe McCormack would have called me in, the lawyer for the Lakers. … It never happened.
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“I’m a person who brings everybody together, uplift the employees. I’ve never abused an employee, and I never will. That’s not what I’m about.”
The ESPN report included a claim that Rich Paul, the agent of Lakers star LeBron James, went directly to NBA commissioner Adam Silver to lobby for head coach Luke Walton to be fired early in the season. Walton was fired at the end of the 2018-19 regular season.
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Paul told Silver, per the report, that Tyronn Lue would be the ideal coach.
Johnson admitted letting Paul fly on one trip with the team from New York to Los Angeles, but he also expressed frustration that he wasn’t given full authority to hire his own employees when he joined the Lakers’ front office in February 2017. Instead, he was hired alongside new general manager Rob Pelinka.
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The ESPN report claimed Johnson and Pelinka were often working unilaterally, including on potential trades and in free agency.
“I would have hired my own people at the beginning. The one thing I didn’t get to do was hire everybody that I wanted. Rob and I got put together. I inherited Luke Walton. (If I had a chance) to hire my own people, then you can judge me. You can judge me by trades I made. You can judge me by, I didn’t have enough shooters.”
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Johnson added, “Did I do some...
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