Shock waves were sent through the NBA Tuesday night when Lakers great and team president Magic Johnson put in for his extended PTO. The clip of him saying, “I’m not going to be here,” in his impromptu press conference has been circulating through social media for over 24 hours.
My manager: "You mind working OT tonight?"
— Ry (@JustRyCole) April 10, 2019
Lakers owner, Jeanie Buss, had no clue Johnson was leaving and he appeared generally relieved by the prospect of leaving a sinking team. The presser was highly entertaining, but Johnson brought 76ers star Ben Simmons, and the storyline that linked these two storied organizations for weeks, back into the spotlight.
During the presser, Magic went on to say he did nothing wrong in regards to the Simmons ordeal. Watch below as he exclaims, “And Elton said the wrong thing…”
— David Malandra Jr (@David_Malandra) April 10, 2019
The drama started when Magic told Philadelphia reporters, before a Lakers-76ers matchup, that Simmons wanted to work with him. A firestorm was set off and the chants of “Tampering!” rang from City Hall all the way down to the Wells Fargo Center.
Ben Simmons wants to work with Magic Johnson, who loves his game: “The East better watch out.” pic.twitter.com/mJwMjksm8A
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) February 11, 2019
76ers general manager Elton Brand told his side of the story: “[Lakers GM] Rob Pelinka called me and said that Ben (Simmons) wanted to talk to Hall of Famers after the season, Magic was on the list. He asked for authorization… I said no.”
The Lakers countered and issued a statement the Monday after Brand’s that read: “To clarify, last November the 76ers sent an email to the Lakers asking if Ben Simmons would be able to speak with Magic Johnson about his Hall of Fame playing career. After receiving the email request from the 76ers, Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka contacted 76ers General Manager Elton Brand and informed him that Magic could only do so if the 76ers gave him pre-written approval. That was the end of the matter.”
On Tuesday, Magic went on to say, “When Ben Simmons called and we went through the proper channels and they made me look like the bad guy out of that situation, but I didn’t do anything wrong … I was thinking about all those times, all those guys who want me to mentor them or be a part of their lives, and I can’t even do that. I had more fun on the other side.”
Johnson went on to talk about “backstabbers” and how he’s not having any fun dodging tampering questions.
Brand said tonight before the last 76ers game of the season, “The rules are the rules… anytime you can talk to a legend and get the wealth of knowledge that he has… absolutely.”
— Dave Uram (@MrUram) April 11, 2019
Brand appears to be on board with the team’s All-Star working with Johnson now that he’s not affiliated with the Lakers in any official capacity. One can speculate if the Lakers legend’s allegiance to his old team resurfaces in those shootarounds. Only time will tell.