Magic Johnson has apparently come full circle with the Los Angeles Lakers, going from Hall of Fame point guard to now the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the team, which was announced Tuesday in a major shakeup of the front office.
Johnson, who had come back to the Lakers in an executive position this year, replaces general manager Mitch Kupchak, who had worked in Lakers’ management for 30 years and Jim Buss, executive vice president of basketball operations, both of whom were fired by Buss’ sister Jeanie Buss.
“Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” she said in a statement. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me.
“Our search for a new general manager to work with Earvin and coach Luke Walton is well underway, and we hope to announce a new general manager in short order,” Jeanie Buss added. “Together, Earvin, Luke and our new general manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”
The Lakers boast 16 NBA Championship trophies, five of them led by Johnson on the court, but the past four years have been the worst in the franchise’s history. They finished last season with a record of 17-65 as another player synonymous with the team, Kobe Bryant, retired. Johnson has expressed interest in having Bryant return to the organization as well. The Lakers’ current record is 19-39.
Johnson was drafted by the Lakers in 1979 after winning the NCAA title at Michigan State. After winning five championship rings with Los Angeles, he had become successful in business and had even purchased a stake in the team, held some coaching responsibilities and held an honorary vice president title. But he resigned from that in June after being vocally critical of Jim Buss and others in the organization. He had sold off his stake in 2010.
“It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family,” Johnson said in a statement. “Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”