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Magic Johnson named to top Lakers post; GM Kupchak fired

By Doug G. Ware
Magic Johnson named to top Lakers post; GM Kupchak fired
Earvin "Magic" Johnson was named by the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday as the team's new president of basketball operations. General Manager Mitch Kupchak and V.P. of Operations Jim Buss were both fired, the team said. File Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Arguably the greatest player ever to suit up in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform has been named to a top administrative and advisory post for the team.

Earvin "Magic" Johnson was named as the Lakers' new president of basketball operations on Tuesday, in an announcement that also revealed that the team had fired General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Vice President of Operations Jim Buss.

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"I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights [former owner] Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect," current team owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. "Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order.

"Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness."

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Johnson, 57, was named earlier this month as an adviser to the team, a move that some said was an indication that a larger management change was imminent.

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"It's a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family," Johnson said. "I'm passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court."

Johnson, drafted by the Lakers in 1979, played for 12 seasons with the team before an HIV diagnosis forced him to retire in 1991. He made a brief comeback in 1996. He was a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers and named three times as the NBA's Most Valuable Player.

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