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Magic Johnson admits he dumped D’Angelo Russell over Snapchat incident

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

Magic Johnson, in his latest tell-all, admits that he dumped D’Angelo Russell two years ago not because he wasn’t a “leader,” as he claimed at the time of the trade, but because of DLo’s Snaphat controversy.

Johnson, in talking with Stephen A. Smith, said of the trade...

“I said let’s trade some people, get some draft picks, so on and on. D’Angelo, great guard, but had a problem when Shaggy P and the whole Nick, the whole thing went down,” Johnson said. “So I knew we had to get him out,” said Johnson, mispronouncing Nick Young’s nickname.

Russell famously recorded Young telling him he was cheating on his fiancée, Iggy Azalea. Once it surfaced on social media, Russell became part of a Hollywood media storm and an issue among teammates. Byron Scott, then Lakers coach, refused to intervene and ultimately Azalea broke off her engagement.

A year later, the Lakers hired Johnson as president of basketball operations. Four months after that, Johnson traded Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Nets for Brook Lopez and a first rounder who became Kyle Kuzma. In Monday’s interview, Johnson said the inclusion of Kuzma made the trade alright. But Russell exploded this season in Brooklyn, averaging 21 points, seven rebounds, leading the Nets to the playoffs and making his first All-Star team.

It was the first time that Johnson admitted that the Snapchat incident had led to the trade. In his comments back in June of 2017, he hinted at the incident, but did not get into specifics.

“He has the talent to be an All-Star,” Johnson said. “We want to thank him for what he did for us. But what I needed was a leader. I needed somebody also that can make the other players better and also [somebody] that players want to play with.”

Johnson also admitted being in love with Lonzo Ball, who the Lakers took in the 2017 as DLo’s replacement. Ball has yet to justify that love.

Of course, by making his claim (among a lot of others), Johnson was trying to shift the blame for one of the most unpopular trades in team history, to Russell. But after Russell’s season, his career is now defined more by his successes in Brooklyn than any mistakes he made in L.A.