By Veronica Mackey
For 13 seasons, he played for the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers at the Forum until he retired in 1991. His presence has been seen and heard as the voice of early detection for HIV, and a business mogul with a string of restaurants and movie theatres.
In 2012, Earvin “Magic” Johnson became co-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers with a group of investors, and bought the Los Angeles Sparks in 2014. But his heart was never far away from the Lakers (his first love). Magic Johnson has held several positions with the Lakers organization since he retired. Now he has come full circle, taking over as president of basketball operations.
In his new role, Johnson will answer directly to co-owner Jeanie Buss, daughter of the late team owner Dr. Jerry Buss, and oversee the general manager.
"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.
Buss fired longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak and removed brother Jim Buss as executive vice president of basketball operations to make room for Johnson. In true Lakers fashion, Johnson was handed the job last minute—just 2 days before the league’s trade deadline of noon on Thursday.
Shakeup within the Lakers organization is expected to reshape the team’s winning prospects. The Lakers, who won three back-to-back champions during the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant Era, trails the league with the third-worst record in the NBA.
"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," Buss said in a statement Tuesday. "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. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new general manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness."
Buss and Johnson would not predict how long it will take to turn things around.
"It's going to take us a while," Buss said. "I don't want to fool the fans. We're going to build this thing the right way."
Johnson added: "I can't turn it around tomorrow. Or I really would be Magic, right?"
According to ESPN, Sports agent Rob Pelinka will be the next Lakers general manager. He will have to divest himself from his clients at Landmark Sports agency, which he co-owns with Kobe Bryant.