Basketball

Lakers spruce up front office with Magic

Legend Johnson made president of basketball operations in major shake-up in Los Angeles

Earvin "Magic" Johnson was named president of basketball operations for the struggling Los Angeles Lakers yesterday, as one of the NBA's most storied franchises undergoes a major shake-up to their front office.

In addition to promoting Johnson, a Hall of Famer who won five NBA titles with the franchise in the 1980s, Lakers governor Jeanie Buss fired long-time general manager Mitch Kupchak and her own brother, Jim, from his role as vice-president of basketball operations.

"I took these actions today to achieve one goal: Everyone associated with the Lakers will now be pulling in the same direction, the direction established by Earvin and myself," she said.

"We are determined to get back to competing to win NBA championships again."

Kupchak was in his 30th season working in the team's front office while Jim Buss, son of former Lakers owner Jerry, joined the team in 1998.

The Lakers, who last week were ranked second in Forbes' list of most valuable NBA teams at US$3 billion (S$4.3b), are in the midst of one of the worst on-court stretches in their history.

Earlier this month, the Lakers hired Johnson to advise the owners on basketball and business in a role the team said would include collaborating with coaches, mentoring players and assessing future franchise needs.

Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organisation. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture. LA Lakers president of basketball operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson

He called his newest role a "dream come true" and pledged to work tirelessly to get the team back to the top of the NBA.

"Since 1979, I've been a part of the Laker Nation and I'm passionate about this organisation," said Johnson.

  • The Los Angeles Lakers have a dismal 19-39 record this season and are second-last in the Western Conference.

    They are headed for a fourth consecutive losing campaign and haven’t reached the play-offs since 2013.

"I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court."

The 57-year-old, who ended his 12-year career with the Lakers in 1991 after he was diagnosed with HIV, was a minority owner of the team for several years after his retirement and has built a business that owns movie theatres, health clubs and other properties.

Johnson, who staged a brief NBA comeback in 1996, was the face of a group that bought Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion in 2012.

That consortium also bought Major League Soccer's Los Angeles FC and WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks.

The Lakers have not made the post-season since losing in the first round of the 2013 NBA play-offs and, with a 19-39 record that has them sitting second-last in the Western Conference, are headed for a fourth consecutive losing campaign. - REUTERS

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