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"Today, I'm going to step down as president," the former NBA superstar told a gaggle of reporters on Tuesday night, about an hour and a half before the Los Angeles Lakers played their last game of the season. "I was happier when I wasn't the president."
Johnson has served as the team's president of basketball operations for more than two years — the latest move in a long and successful career as a businessman and philanthropist after he first retired in 1991 when he tested positive for HIV. He came back to be part of the U.S. Olympic "Dream Team" in 1992 and then again to play for the Lakers in the 1995-96 season.
His resignation came out of the blue; on Monday, Johnson had a three-hour meeting about the team's future after its sixth consecutive losing season, the Associated Press reported.
Reporters and basketball fans weren't the only ones to find out about his resignation late in the game.
"Somebody's gonna have to tell my boss," Johnson told reporters.