Picture this: One day you walk into work 10 minutes early and find out that one of your co-workers announced that they were quitting their job that they were scheduled to work that day via a lengthy Facebook post or, even better, an Instagram Live feed. All without telling you beforehand. It would be the only thing you and your co-workers talk about for the next few days.
That’s almost exactly what happened to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, when Magic Johnson called an unscheduled press conference to announce that he was stepping down as the team’s president of basketball operations. Literally everyone found out at the same time, with the exception of maybe his family and closest friends.
Naturally, Johnson’s abrupt departure from the franchise was the main topic of the team’s exit interviews on Wednesday, and unsurprisingly, everyone was still trying to process exactly what happened. However, what did come as a bit of a surprise was how supportive everyone was of Johnson’s decision to step away.
Kyle Kuzma said that Johnson’s decision to leave and be happy is no different than when players leave their respective situations for a better one.
“To be honest I was a little bit shocked just like everybody else was. It wasn’t predicted, nobody had that on their minds. We say it all the time with players, it’s not different with the front office. The one thing you can do in life is to do what’s best for you, and for Magic, he’s Magic Johnson, he doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody,” Kuzma said. “He just did what’s best for him. That’s all you can ask, and that’s what anybody in this world would do for themselves.”
Lonzo Ball shared a similar sentiment, and wished Johnson — who he also thanked for mentoring and believing in him — well on the next chapter of his life.
“I think it shocked me like it did the rest of the world, but it’s what’s best for him,” Ball said. “If this is what he wants to do, I support him 100 percent.”
The quotes from this particular group of players holds a little more weight because they were Johnson’s first crop of rookies.
Josh Hart, who was the last of the Lakers’ three first-round picks in 2017, said that his experience working for one of the greatest point guards to ever play the game was one that he’ll never forget.
“The two years he was here, he was able to teach us. What we were able to learn from him was amazing,” Hart said. “We wish him the best on his future endeavors.”