Lakers Reporter: Magic "Didn't Like The Backstabbing"

Magic Johnson's resignation stunned the basketball world, but perhaps it shouldn't have

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
April 11, 2019 - 10:25 am
Magic Johnson Rob Pelinka

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Magic Johnson’s decision to step down as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations stunned the NBA world. Days later, however, a clearer picture is beginning to take shape.

“Magic alluded to it multiple times: he didn’t like the backstabbing and the whispering that were going on within the organization,” NBC Lakers reporter Michael Duarte said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “That was a red flag triggered to me that he was talking about Rob.”

Rob, of course, is Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.

“When Rob first got hired, some of my sources and contacts – who are NBA agents – said, ‘Rob doesn’t have a very good reputation in the league, especially with other agents,’” Duarte said. “There was a lot of bad blood – which was the exact word they used – between him and other NBA agents. That’s just because that business is very competitive. You’re recruiting clients and they’re like sharks out there, and there’s a lot of animosity when you take clients or steal clients.

“So all of this was going on and Magic alluded to the fact that he didn’t feel like Jeanie (Buss) had vetted Rob thoroughly,” Duarte continued. “Magic alluded to the fact that he had been told by agents who called him after he took the job that Rob had some baggage there. I know for a fact that the San Antonio Spurs didn’t want to deal with Rob in the offseason when it came to Kawhi Leonard. I know that Dell Demps wanted to deal with Magic Johnson – and not Rob – all the time at the trade deadline this year when it came to the Anthony Davis talks, (which was) another reason why they broke up.”

Still, despite Pelinka’s baggage, he is 100 percent all-in with the Lakers.

“He is fully vested in his role as a general manager,” Duarte said. “I see him sitting just behind courtside every single game. He’s in the tunnel, he’s talking to players – he’s very vested. Magic is still having to be Magic. He’s got multiple business ventures, he owns a lot of sports teams, he’s a huge personality – he has conflicts he has to make. So at the practice facility, people with the Lakers’ organization – including Rob himself – were making comments that Magic is not here and Magic is an absentee executive. That was some of the backstabbing that Magic did not like.”

Click below to listen to Duarte’s interview in its entirety.