Using the word “betrayal,” Magic Johnson made it clear that general manager Rob Pelinka was the one “backstabbing” him, telling people that Johnson wasn’t working hard and wanting to take his job with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In an appearance on First Take on Monday morning, Johnson did not hold back, identifying Pelinka as the person to whom he was alluding when he mentioned that he was tired of the “backstabbing” and “the whispering” that was going on behind his back when he suddenly stepped down as Lakers president of basketball operations on April 9.
“I start hearing, ‘Magic, you are not working hard enough. Magic’s not in the office,'” Johnson told First Take. “People around the Lakers office were telling me Rob was saying things, Rob Pelinka, and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back, that I wasn’t in the office enough. So I started getting calls from my friends outside of basketball saying those things now were said to them outside of basketball now, just not in the Lakers office anymore.”
Johnson later added, when asked who had betrayed him in the Lakers organization: “If you are going to talk betrayal, it’s only with Rob.”
Pelinka answered several questions about Johnson’s explosive comments while introducing new Lakers coach Frank Vogel to the Los Angeles media on Monday morning. Pelinka said Johnson’s allegations weren’t true and that he had just spoken with his former boss “two days ago” about the Lakers landing the fourth pick in the lottery.
“I think the most important thing for me is the two years of being able to work side by side with Earvin are the some of the greatest memories I have in sports and work,” Pelinka said. “He is an unbelievable person to work with. He fills the room with joy and vision. And truly it’s saddening and disheartening to think he believes things are a misperception. I think all of us in life probably have been through things where maybe there’s third party whispers or he said, she said things that aren’t true. I have talked to him several times since he decided to step a