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Magic’s last trick

/ 05:20 AM April 12, 2019

Magic Johnson’s last trick stunned the basketball universe Tuesday night.

With his usual jovial mood, he stepped in front of the media at Staples Center in Los Angeles and made himself disappear.

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He announced he was stepping down as Lakers president of basketball operations after two years on the job, leaving everybody off guard, including the team’s owner, Jeanie Buss.

“There was no warning … no rumors … nothing to indicate what was about to happen,” wrote LA Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke. “He nudged … he grinned … then his smile disappeared, his laughter died, and he quit.”

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Magic’s explanation for his last abracadabra—that he no longer was having fun—did not fly with pundits.

“Seriously? Being the point person in attempting to turn around a once-storied franchise was predicated on having fun?” asked USA Today’s Josh Peters  incredulously.

Johnson sealed a $154-million, four-year deal for LeBron James to come to LA and help restore luster to a glamorous team that has not been in the playoffs in six straight seasons.

“And now both are part of a losing record and a team in chaos,” wrote Scott Cacciola of the New York Times.

Cacciola said Johnson’s exit “was the perfect finale to a season that trafficked in dysfunction.”

The irascible Plaschke said Johnson’s 45-minute rambling revealed an “organization in chaos … a portrayal of a mess that began when Johnson was unwisely given the job in the first place.”

The rationale that just because Johnson was a great player he could produce a young team plus James and turn it into a playoff team overnight was flawed, according to USA Today’s Peters.

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He said from the outset, Johnson’s “job promised to be nothing short of demanding and daunting.”

“Far from it,” Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) communications director Ed Picson said emphatically when asked if his boss, POC president Ricky Vargas, was bailing out of the local Olympics agency.

“He (Vargas) is just venting his frustrations, but at the same time, he acknowledged that it takes time to implement changes amidst an ingrained culture.”

The other day, Vargas railed against the politics right in his own executive board with close ties to former POC chief Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr.

Aside from the election of Vargas and Abraham Tolentino as POC chair and the appointment of Patrick Gregorio as secretary general last year, all of the other 10 board members were part of Peping’s ticket in 2016.

“Coup talks  have been around from Day 1,” said Picson. “Some are fake and some bear watching. But whatever, they are distractions especially now while we are preparing for the Southeast Asian Games and the Olympics.”

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