Hall of Famer Magic Johnson has been named the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations in an overhaul of the struggling team’s front office.
The team announced on Tuesday that general manager Mitch Kupchak has been fired and that Jim Buss will no longer serve as executive VP of basketball operations. Buss is the son of the late former Lakers owner Jerry Buss and brother of Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss.
The team is currently 19-39 and in 14th place (out of 15 teams) in the NBA’s Western Conference. The Lakers have not made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season.
Johnson was hired earlier this month as an adviser to the Lakers and subsequently said he would like to “call the shots” for the team. The announcement did not specify whether Johnson will handle day-to-day operations.
“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. “Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”
Johnson played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons, leading the team to five NBA championships in what was widely known as the team’s “Showtime” era. He won three Most Valuable Player awards
Jeanie Buss, the Lakers’ president, governor, and co-owner said that the team is actively searching for a new general manager.
“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,” Jeanie Buss said. “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 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.”
As for her brother Jim Buss, Jeanie Buss said, “Jim loves the Lakers. Although he will no longer be responsible for basketball personnel decisions, he is an owner of this team and we share the same goal: returning the Lakers to the level of greatness our father demanded. Our fans deserve no less.”
The Lakers also announced they have parted ways with John Black, who had been the Lakers’ vice president of public relations.
Johnson is also part of the ownership group that purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team in 2012.