LOS ANGELES — At the end of a disastrous season in which the Los Angeles Lakers failed to make the playoffs, despite having added LeBron James via free agency, Magic Johnson made the stunning announcement on Tuesday that he was stepping down as the team’s president of basketball operations.
Johnson delivered the news at an impromptu news conference before the Lakers’ regular-season finale, against the Portland Trail Blazers, and he said he had not yet informed Jeanie Buss, the team’s controlling owner. In fact, he had told nearly no one before he addressed a mass of hastily assembled reporters.
“I couldn’t face her to tell her,” he said, referring to Buss. He later added that he would find her at Staples Center to address her in person.
“There is no greater Los Angeles Laker than Earvin Johnson,” the statement read, using Johnson’s formal name. “We are deeply grateful to Magic for all that he has done for our franchise — as a player, an ambassador and an executive.”
The statement continued, “As we begin the process of moving forward, we will work in a measured and methodical fashion to make the right moves for the future of our organization.”
“Measured” and “methodical” would be an about-face from the way Johnson stepped down. It was a surreal scene as he fielded questions for nearly 45 minutes after he made his announcement, appearing to hold back tears at times, and repeatedly said that he loved Buss like a sister. He then posed for pictures with team employees, former teammates and a local news anchor.
“I want to go back to