Earvin “Magic” Johnson has just been named the new President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson will replace the former General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss, the executive vice president of basketball operations. The organization has also let go of their longtime publicist John Black.
The recent firings are causing a stir in the basketball world because Jim Buss is the son of Dr. Jerry Buss the owner of the Lakers before his death in 2013. The Buss family currently owns the Lakers and Jim’s sister, Jeanie, made the decision to fire her brother and hire Johnson to take over the operations role. Jeanie Buss serves as the president of the Los Angeles Lakers and the co-owner. Johnson was hired to the team as an adviser earlier this month and has since been promoted to president.
Johnson started his professional basketball career in 1979 when he was drafted by the Lakers. As point guard, he won five national championships with the team and league MVP. After thirteen seasons with the Lakers, Johnson retired in 1991 after announcing he was HIV-positive in a press conference that rocked the sports world.
Since his retirement, Johnson has worked as an entrepreneur with several business ventures, an HIV/AIDS advocate, and motivational speaker.
Jeanie Buss announced the changes in a statement, “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. Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new general manager to work with Earvin and coach Luke Walton is all 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 new generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.”
Former general manager Mitch Kupchak was also a member of the Lakers basketball team, playing the power forward/center position from 1981-1985. Magic Johnson encouraged Jerry Buss to sign Kupchak to the team in the 1980s. In 1986, Kupchak became the assistant general manager and became the GM in 2000.
Jim Buss started out as the assistant general manager for the Lakers in 1998. As VP of Basketball Operations, Buss has been vocal about his departure if the team did not improve during the regular season.
Jeanie Buss is working diligently to improve the Lakers record which has suffered greatly after the retirement of Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson. The Lakers currently have a 19-39 record which is the third-worst record in the NBA. For three seasons, the Lakers have missed the playoffs which is the worst playoff performance in franchise history. Their last season, a soul-crushing 17-65, is also the worst in Franchise history.