Magic Johnson explains why he left Lakers, Rob Pelinka ‘betrayal’

Magic Johnson went on ESPN’s First Take Monday morning to further explain his abrupt departure from the Lakers’ front office last month, and he didn’t hold back.

Johnson stated a major reason for his decision was general manager Rob Pelinka’s “betrayal.” He said Pelinka was going behind his back to knock his work ethic and commitment to the job.

“I started hearing, ‘Magic, you’re not working enough. Magic’s not in the office,'” Johnson said. “People around the Laker office were telling me Rob was saying things, Rob Pelinka, and I didn’t like those things being said behind my back.”

Johnson, who has a number of other business interests, said he made it clear to the Lakers before he took the position that he’d still need time to spend on those things outside of the office.

Here’s video of his time on First Take:

Johnson also said the battle over then-coach Luke Walton’s fate was a factor in his resignation. Johnson said he wanted to fire Walton, but Lakers chief operating officer Tim Harris got involved in the conversation and held a different opinion.

“When I looked up and said, ‘Wait a minute, I only really answer to (owner) Jeanie Buss, now I got Tim involved.’ I said, ‘It’s time for me to go,'” Johnson said. “I’ve got things happening that were being said behind my back. I don’t have the power that I thought I had to make the decisions. And I told them, when it’s not fun for me, when I think that I don’t have the decision-making power that I thought I had, then I’ve got to step aside.”

Walton mutually parted ways with the Lakers on April 12, and is now the coach of the Sacramento Kings.

The Lakers are introducing Walton’s replacement, Frank Vogel, at a press conference Monday afternoon.

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