Johnson told Tania Ganguli, a Lakers reporter from The Los Angeles Times, “That story is wrong.”
Denying any wrongdoing, Johnson added, “Never disrespected anybody. Never did anything bad. Am I tough? Hell yeah! You work for me. I’m demanding, but at the same time I’m fair.”
Hitting back at rumors of an alleged report, the former NBA star said, “They’ve been talking about that article for how many months? Everybody running, ‘Oh they’re writing an article.’ I’m gonna say, why didn’t they interview anybody at ESPN? If I was doing something wrong to employees disrespecting, this or that, think they would’ve hired me twice?”
In light of the speculation, ESPN released a statement to The Big Lead about the alleged report. “It is our journalistic practice never to discuss or comment on reporting we do before we’re prepared to share that work with the audience.”
On Tuesday, Johnson announced his decision to step down as the team’s president of basketball operations. After a lackluster season in which the Lakers went 37-44, Johnson said, “I don’t like a lot of things that went on that didn’t have to go on,” during an impromptu press conference.