Magic Johnson stunned the NBA world on Tuesday night when he made an abrupt announcement that he was stepping down as president of the Los Angeles Lakers.
In what was an emotional, impromptu press conference, Johnson spoke about the importance of being a "Laker for life" and recalled how he turned down opportunities to join other franchises, one of which was with the Knicks.
"I could have led the Knicks when Steve Mills called me," he said.
Mills, who has a close relationship with Johnson, was named the Knicks GM in 2013 but hired former Lakers coach Phil Jackson as the team president instead.
Johnson became the Lakers team president in February 2017, about five months before Jackson resigned as Knicks president, whose duties Mills took over.
Johnson, 59, said he had not told Lakers owner Jeanie Buss of his decision to step down.
"I knew I couldn't be face-to-face and tell her," he said. "I couldn't stand to tell her."
Johnson explainend that he wants "to go back to having fun" and be a statesman for the game.
"I was happier when I wasn't president [of the Lakers]," he said.
While they were able to sign LeBron James last summer, the Lakers were unable to return to the playoffs under Johnson as team president.
They entered Tuesday 37-44 and had not made the postseason since 2013.