Johnson says that Simmons reached out to him for advice on how to be a big point guard in the National Basketball Association and immediately it was considered as tampering and there was a lot of drama around the situation.
"I'm a free bird and I can't be handcuffed", Johnson said (McMenamin). I've got a attractive life. I'm like, 'Damn I have a great life outside of this.
Ganguli adds that Johnson hinted that he planned to fire head coach Luke Walton - a move that won't necessarily happen now - but Dave McMenamin of ESPN clarifies that the decision to step down wasn't related to Walton.
With Johnson not informing owner Jeanie Buss or general manager Rob Pelinka, they will have to scramble to get things in order with the draft and free agency just ahead.
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"Also what I didn't like is the backstabbing and the whispering", Johnson said, later clarifying that he didn't mean within the Lakers, but around the league. "I'm not disappointed in anything we did", he said.
"I'm not talking two or three games here, everyone is back in the lineup". The announcement came before the Lakers had their season finale against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Staples Center.
Johnson retired in 1991 after he tested positive for HIV, but later returned briefly to the Lakers as a player and a coach. Los Angeles has missed the playoffs for six straight seasons.
The press conference by Johnson lasted well over 40 minutes.
Johnson also pointedly refused to say whether Pelinka should remain as the Lakers' general manager, saying the decision rested exclusively with Buss, whom he repeatedly called "my sister". The decision on whether or not to retain Walton would've been Magic's to make, but with him gone everything is now in question.