Disappearing Act: Magic’s Resignation Is As Selfish As It Is Self Care

Late in the day on April 9th, Los Angeles Lakers President of Basketball Operations Earvin “Magic” Johnson resigned from that position. From his own words and reports around the team, Magic didn’t let anyone know about this decision. According to him, he didn’t want to get emotional when telling Jeannie Buss and end up staying. He also didn’t want to make a decision on firing head coach Luke Walton. There is so much dysfunction surrounding one of the NBA’s best players ever and most iconic figures of one of the most famous sports franchises in the world.

Let’s not focus on what’s next for the Lakers. I’m not even sure they quite know that, so my speculation on that is less than meaningless. Instead, let’s focus on the tough divide of making a decision on one’s own best interest and flat-out running from responsibility.

If Magic was suffering heavy mental burden as President of Basketball Operations, that is nothing to be taken lightly. This is similar to the feeling that former Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer would express as he left his coaching positions to retire. Meyer burns himself out, going so hard as the job that he pushes himself to the brink of collapse. Magic, by accounts of those around the Lakers, never fully committed to the job.

Magic has tried his hand at several things post-basketball. Some, like owning a piece of the Los Angeles Dodgers and his array of movie theaters, have worked. Others, like coaching and his short-lived late-night sketch comedy show, were not so great. But the point is when things do go badly, Magic has been known to abruptly end those things. As surprising as his resignation is, it still fits a tendency of his.

It is a human condition to underestimate a venture, challenge and anything else that requires our effort. What starts with fervor can quickly dissipate into doubt because as the adage goes, we’re, “in over our heads.” It is even possible for the 6’9″ NBA all-time great and great businessman to have chosen something to pursue that was too much for him.

But even with the gentleness and understanding of Magic’s emotional state, this resignation is still quitting a responsibility. No matter how it is seen, Magic signed onto being a major part of the Lakers’ rebuilding process in hopes of returning the franchise to prominence and championship contention. Maybe this proved to be too difficult for him. Maybe Magic understands that his best role is to be more of a team ambassador than scout and builder of a team. Magic can both be doing something that is best for his mental health and abandoning a responsibility. As the fallout from his resignation shakes out, I wish him well.

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