After seven disappointing years, the Los Angeles Lakers have now returned to being a relevant team in the NBA once again. As of now, the Lakers aren’t only expected to end their playoff drought, they may fully dominate the Western Conference and win the 2020 NBA championship title. Though it has already been eight months since he resigned as the team’s president of basketball operations, NBA legend Magic Johnson believes that he deserves to receive some credit for the team’s success this season.
In a recent interview with Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, Johnson discussed what he’s done for the Lakers and said that he played a major role in turning the Purple and Gold into a legitimate title contender in the league.
“This team would not be in the position it’s in without me,” he said, as quoted by SB Nation’s Silver Screen And Roll.
When he accepted the role as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, Johnson vowed to turn the team into a desirable destination for superstars. In the 2018 NBA free agency, Johnson fulfilled his promise by convincing LeBron James to sign a four-year contract with the Lakers. Though he didn’t execute the trade that brought All-Star center Anthony Davis to Los Angeles, Johnson said that he was the one who drafted the two players — Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart — that the Lakers used as trade chips to convince the New Orleans Pelicans to engage in the blockbuster deal.
“This was my strategy, this is what I thought we’d be in three years,” Johnson said. “I knew we were on the right track. Everybody wanted to do it their way, but I’m good with who I am. … I think people respect what I’ve done for the team.”
What Johnson did in his brief stint as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations is indeed one of the major reasons behind their success in the 2019-20 NBA season. Though he also made some bad decisions that included surrounding James with playmakers instead of shooters last season, Johnson said that if he could turn back time, the only thing he would change is how he parted ways with the Lakers.
“The only thing I would have done different would be to sit down with Jeanie [Buss] and let her know I was leaving, sit down with LeBron [James] and let him know,” Johnson said.
His departure from the Lakers last summer has been filled with controversies. As of now, however, Johnson said that he doesn’t hold any grudge against the team and added that he and Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka are currently on good terms.