Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
10 April 2019
Magic Johnson resigning from the Lakers is about brand
The unexpected and sudden announcement that Magic Johnson is stepping down as the President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers last night is all about brand. The personal brand of Magic Johnson, leaving questions about the Lakers brand.
Prior to the Lakers final game, Magic, out of the blue, held one of the strangest impromptu press conferences I’ve ever seen. Standing outside the Laker’s locker room, he said it wasn’t fun being on the business side of things. He added he couldn’t do things like mentor athletes from other teams because it could be seen as tampering. (You know, like tweeting at Russell Westbrook.)
He also said that even his boss, Laker’s owner Jeanie Buss, didn’t know he was stepping down.
“Magic cut bait and is hoping to preserve the brand of Magic Johnson.”
Magic is a smart guy. He sees the writing on the wall and, in typical Magic Johnson fashion, he’s choosing to go out on his own terms. By doing so, he believes he’s protecting his own brand. The Lakers brand, meanwhile, is left in tatters.
What’s next for Magic Johnson and the Lakers?
For even a passing NBA fan, it was no secret this was yet another disappointing season for the Lakers. Five years without a playoff appearance and one of the most talented young rosters in the NBA, the Lakers brought in LeBron James. LeBron was supposed to be the catalyst for a deep playoff run. But instead, the Lakers suffered a rash of injuries, made dubious trades and questions over a potential Anthony Davis trade left the locker room in an uproar.
Perhaps it was because he couldn’t face firing Luke Walton, the son of Bill Walton and the coach of the Lakers. (Magic Johnson stated in his presser that he wasn’t comfortable doing that.) Or perhaps it was because he felt he was going to get fired. (Buss, for her part, said a few weeks ago that she stood by Magic and GM Rob Pelinka.)
On top of all that, there are reports that ESPN is about to publish an article outlining Magic Johnson mistreating employees.
What is clear is that, by all measures, the Lakers have been a failure for a while. In a city accustomed to winning NBA championships. For a long time, Magic Johnson was one of the reasons the Lakers kept winning. But not because he was the president of basketball operations. But because he was one of the best players to ever play the game.
Magic cut bait and is hoping to preserve the brand of Magic Johnson.
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