Magic Johnson denies he was toxic to Lakers

Former Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson refuted reports that he was toxic to the NBA team.

Johnson called an impromptu meeting with media in April to step down from his front office position after the Lakers missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive season with a 37-45 record.

Since then, there have been reports claiming Johnson mistreated employees, and the Hall of Famer addressed those on Tuesday.

"Do you think [Lakers owner] Jeanie Buss would allow me to abuse the employees," Johnson asked in his interview with ESPN. "If that was the case, she would've called me in. [Lakers CFO] Joe McCormack would've called me in, the lawyer for the Lakers.

"As well as Dan, the other lawyer. It never happened. I'm a person that brings everybody together. Uplift the employees. I've never abused an employee, and I never will. That's not what I'm all about."

Johnson also responded to the idea that he did not put enough effort into running basketball operations for the Lakers.

"Lazy? I have built a $600million business," Johnson said. "You cannot be lazy going from playing basketball and winning five championships. So I wasn't lazy as a player, and I'm not lazy as a CEO and a business owner. That's never going to happen."

Johnson said he believed Lakers staff members did not like his honesty and that he held them accountable.

"Did I have to fire some people? Yes," Johnson said. "Because we had to bring about change and get better. The Lakers got a great staff. What's got to happen now, is we got to get out of the news."

Johnson reportedly did not take kindly to working with general manager Rob Pelinka who once served as Lakers legend Kobe Bryant's agent.

"I would've hired my own people from the beginning," Johnson said. "The one thing I didn't get to do is hire everybody that I wanted."

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