Forget The Real Housewives of Orange County. Heck, forget the South Fork Ranch and Dallas. The Buss family soap opera is far more delicious and entertaining.
In our latest episode, Jeanie Buss — the daughter with the business mind and the posed-for-Playboy body, who is dating the head coach of daddy’s franchise — told ESPNLosAngeles that Phil Jackson is going to coach next season.
Whether that’s with the Lakers….
“I know Phil will be coaching next year, somewhere. Whether it’s here or someplace else I don’t know,” Buss said. “There’s going to be a lot of good jobs that come up this summer…”
“I know that he can’t just retire,” she said. “I’m like, ‘Honey, what are you going to do? Are you going to help your kids go change diapers and stuff?'”
It’s another preemptive strike from the Jeanie/Phil side of the Lakers power structure, aimed at father Jerry Buss and his son Jim — the appointed heir to the big seat. And the Buss child who has his father’s ear. With this statement, Jeanie and Phil are trying to win over pubic sympathies and put pressure on the family patriarch and Lakers owner to bring Phil Jackson back.
Why wouldn’t he bring back arguably the greatest NBA coach ever? Well, I can give you 12 million reasons.
“I think if they win it’s like a no-brainer he’ll come back because he’ll want to win three in a row,” Jeanie Buss said. “But [if they don’t win], if there isn’t that connection, he would understand.
“Plus, my dad has made it very clear he doesn’t want to pay him what he’s been paying him. So that’s kind of hard, too. You could kind of say, in some jobs, well I’m cutting back your hours. But can you see him cutting back his hours?”
Both Jerry Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak have said Jackson would be welcomed back, but that discussions were on hold until the playoffs were over.
It was Jeanie that brokered Jackson’s return to the Lakers, after he had left and Jim helped select Rudy Tomjanovich to take over. That proved to be a disaster that threatened the financial structure of the Lakers empire, not just making them look bad on the court. Bringing back Jackson mollified angry season ticket holders, but it came with a price tag of $10 million a year. Since then that price has gone up (inflation, you know). But to let a proven winner like Jackson go in the middle of a championship window risks angering fans again. Who are you going to get that’s better?
It’s a family power struggle well suited to a mid-80s soap opera like Dallas. Then again maybe not, it is Los Angeles. Unfortunately for Lakers fans, Patrick Duffy is not going to appear in the shower and say this was all just a dream. This is the Lakers reality.