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Magic Johnson on leaving Lakers: Rob Pelinka guilty of ‘betrayal’

May 20, 2019

Magic Johnson appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” Monday morning ready to name names.

The legendary NBA player and former Los Angeles Lakers executive spoke to hosts Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman, breaking down why he abruptly resigned from his job as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations on April 9.

Johnson accused general manager Rob Pelinka who remains with the Lakers of backstabbing him, trying to turn others in the front office against him by criticizing his commitment to his job behind his back.

“If you’re going to talk betrayal, it’s only with Rob,” Johnson said at one point.

Magic Johnson identifies Rob Pelinka is the person who was backstabbing him. pic.twitter.com/3mul9lJuzi Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) May 20, 2019

Welp RT @FirstTake: “If you’re going to talk betrayal, it’s only with Rob [Pelinka].”@magicjohnson on the Lakers pic.twitter.com/Tnz5WN64hw Realtor Stevie J (@steviejallday) May 20, 2019

The tipping point, according to Johnson, was a disagreement over who should coach the team going forward. Johnson favored firing Luke Walton, who ultimately was fired, anyway, after Johnson’s departure. The Lakers will introduce Frank Vogel as their new coach Monday.

Magic Johnson on First Take: “The straw that broke the camel’s back is that I wanted to fire Luke Walton...I said ’listen, we’ve got to get a better coach.” pic.twitter.com/89CveXtbjC ShowtimeForum (@ShowtimeForum) May 20, 2019

Johnson announced his resignation at an impromptu press conference at the tail end of the regular season. At the time, he said he “had more fun when I was able to the be big brother and ambassador to everybody.”

In the team’s first year with LeBron James, the Lakers went 37-45 and missed the playoffs.

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