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Lakers legal fight is head-on collision of Busses

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jeanie Buss went to court Friday to stop what her attorneys call an attempt by brothers Jim and Johnny Buss to oust her as controlling owner and president of the Los Angeles Lakers, an allegation the brothers’ attorneys say has no basis in reality.

The matter came to a quick end when Jeanie Buss withdrew her request for a temporary restraining in Los Angeles County Superior Court after the brothers dropped their request for a board meeting she felt was a move against her, but it may just be the opening skirmish in a bigger family fight over one of the most-storied franchises in sports. A larger lawsuit in probate court is pending.

“It is good news for fans that Jim and Johnny backed down in court today, but I’m afraid it’s just the beginning,” Adam Streisand, attorney for Jeanie Buss, said in an email to The Associated Press.

The public spat comes just over a week after Jeanie Buss ousted Jim Buss as the Lakers’ executive vice president of basketball operations and replaced him with Magic Johnson. She also fired longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak, who Johnson replaced with player agent Rob Pelinka.

Under the team structure set up by the siblings’ late father Jerry Buss, Jeanie Buss is controlling owner with final say, but the brothers, and others, have ownership stakes in the team.

Robert Sacks, attorney for the brothers, told the AP by phone that the brothers have no interest in wresting control from their sister and the entire court fight is unnecessary.

“Both Jim Buss and Johnny Buss hoped that any issues would be handled within the family,” Sacks said. He added that the brothers have said both verbally and in corporate documents that they support keeping her as controlling owner.

Jeanie Buss’ filing said that the brothers had requested a board of directors meeting be held next week and included a list of four proposed directors who could be elected there.

That list did not include Jeanie Buss, who is required to be a director in order to be a controlling owner. Buss and her attorneys took that as a sign that they intended to oust their sister, and went to court to stop it.

Robert Sacks, attorney for the brothers, said they did indeed want a board of directors meeting because the organization was overdue for one, but that it had nothing to do with wresting control from Jeanie Buss.

The brothers withdrew their request for the meeting, and Jeanie Buss withdrew the court request to stop it.

Asked about the family turmoil, first-year coach Luke Walton said, “Stuff that’s not in my control, I don’t spend much time thinking about.”

An initial hearing in a potential probate trial between the siblings is scheduled for May.

“I’m confident we will continue to uphold Dr. Buss’s wishes and Jeanie will remain in control,” Streisand said.

The fight is just the latest round of negative news and upheaval for the Lakers, who for decades had an ownership and management structure that was the envy of the league.

The possible probate battle and ongoing family feud that looms is more reminiscent of the traditionally dysfunctional Los Angeles Clippers, whose then-owner Donald Sterling and estranged wife Shelly Sterling got into an ugly probate-court fight over the ownership and sale of the team.

The Lakers have already had a woeful run on the court, steadily declining since their last back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. They’ve had among the worst records in the league in recent years and haven’t made the playoffs since 2013.

Magic sending Raptors draft pick as compensation for hiring Jeff Weltman

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The Raptors promoted Jeff Weltman, still working under Masai Ujiri, to general manager last year.

That paid off for Toronto when the Magic hired Weltman as their new president.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Magic have their own and the Lakers’ second-round picks next year. Even the lower of those two selections could be somewhat value.

In other words, Weltman’s already-difficult job is getting even harder simply by Orlando hiring him.

LeBron James still striving to surpass Michael Jordan

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LeBron James has discussed chasing Michael Jordan’s “ghost,” motivating himself by trying surpass Jordan as the greatest player in NBA history.

Just 27 points behind Jordan for the all-time playoff scoring lead – a record he could break in Cavaliers-Celtics Game 5 tonight – LeBron is again discussing that pursuit.

LeBron, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

“It’s just a personal goal of mine,” James said Thursday before Cavs shootaround in preparation of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. “It has nothing to do with passing the rings, passing the points, passing MVPs. It’s just my personal goal to keep me motivated — that’s all.”

“You guys are going to have the conversations about who is greatest of all time and things of that nature,” James said. “It doesn’t matter to me. At the end of the day, it’s so funny that the conversation is always talked about in the NBA about who is the greatest but it’s never talked about in the NFL about who is the greatest quarterback. It’s just like: [Dan] Marino, [John] Elway, [Peyton] Manning and [Tom] Brady. All great quarterbacks, you know — and it should be the same for us.

Jordan or LeBron? Save your hot takes. LeBron just burnt them all.

The greatest quarterback of all time is never debated? Claiming that is now the hottest take in the entire realm of the Jordan-LeBron debate.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: Kyrie Irving feeling ‘good’ after ankle injury

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BOSTON (AP) — Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue says that Kyrie Irving‘s left ankle is feeling “good” in advance of Cleveland’s Game 5 matchup Thursday night with the Celtics.

Irving was moving around and putting up shots during the Cavs’ morning shootaround.

The All-Star rolled his ankle in the third quarter of Game 4 when he stepped on Terry Rozier‘s foot. Irving was able to stay on the floor and finish the game, scoring a career playoff-high 42 points.

Cleveland leads Boston 3-1 and can wrap up its third straight Eastern Conference title Thursday night.

Several Celtics are also fighting injuries as they try to stave off elimination.

Jaylen Brown is listed as questionable with a right hip pointer. Jae Crowder is probable with a left groin strain, and Amir Johnson is probable with a right shoulder sprain.

Danny Ainge: Lonzo Ball declined to work out for Celtics, who hold No. 1 pick

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LaVar Ball said his son, highly touted draft prospect Lonzo Ball, would work out for only the Lakers.

You thought he was bluffing?

Celtics president Danny Ainge, whose team holds the No. 1 pick, on 98.5 the Sports Hub:

We just tried to get him in for a workout, and they politely said no.

It’s not ideal.

Listen, we’ve drafted guys that wouldn’t come in for workouts before. I mean, it’s not the end of the world. We’ve watched them play a ton. We have a lot of information on them.

Good for Ball. Professional sports teams already hold inordinate power over players entering the workforce. In no other industry are top young employees assigned to a particular company, the worst-performing companies typically getting priority, with no ability to bargain with competitors.

Ball wants to play for the Lakers, who offer proximity to his family and hold the No. 2 pick. He can’t force Boston to pass on him or Los Angeles to pick him. But he can influence decision-making.

It seemed likely the Celtics would draft Markelle Fultz, and though they could still pick Ball, him declining a workout with Boston makes that only less likely. The Lakers will probably draft Ball, but this plan carries risk. If they pass, he could fall once he gets to teams less familiar with him.

Still, Ball deserves to decide for himself how to manage his career – especially in such a closed job market. Not working out for the Celtics is probably his best path to getting where he wans to go.