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Lakers 2.0: The failed reboot of the NBA’s crown jewel

Before them were Rob Pelinka and Earvin “Magic” Johnson, who had been formally introduced in March 2017 as the Lakers’ new front-office leaders — with Johnson, an iconic player from the team’s 1980s “Showtime” era, serving as its president of basketball operations, and Pelinka, who had famously served as Kobe Bryant’s agent, as the general manager.

Neither possessed front-office experience but were chosen by Lakers president and governor Jeanie Buss, who had fired the organization’s longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak and, separately, her brother Jim in February 2017.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

This gathering would serve as one of Pelinka and Johnson’s initial attempts to address the basketball operations staff in a more formal setting — and to make an impression regarding their managerial style.4

In his remarks, Johnson expressed excitement about the task ahead, but he also made clear he didn’t accept excuses or mistakes, and that those who weren’t on board with the new management and their mission should leave, according to six staffers who were present.

Pointing upstairs, toward his office, Johnson drove home his point. He had a large stack of resumes sitting on his desk — “a thousand” of them, multiple staffers recall him saying — and he could replace any of them at any time.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

“It was shocking,” said one Lakers coaching staff member who was present. “If you’re going to be in this business, you bring enough pressure on yourself. You don’t need more pressure, especially from someone who’s supposed to be an ally.”

The message would set the tone for what many staffers describe as Johnson’s confrontational demeanor over the next two years. “If you questioned him on anything, his response was always a threatening tone,” said a Lakers front office staffer who interacted with Johnson directly. “He used intimidation and bullying as a way of showing authority.”

When Pelinka and Johnson ascended to their posts, there was talk of a new beginning, the start of returning the Lakers to greatness. The era was even given a sleek brand: Lakers 2.0.

But the era was short-lived, culminating in Johnson’s sudden resignation during an impromptu news conference on April 9. He cited “backstabbing and “whispering” as reasons for his abrupt departure. In just over two years, what was deemed a bold front-office experiment had failed.