Tag: Jeanie Buss

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In memoir, Jeanie Buss says she was “stunned” Lakers didn’t hire Phil Jackson


One more time down this well traveled road….

We all pretty much know how the Lakers hiring of Mike D’Antoni went down at this point: In short, Jim Buss wants to bring back more of a “ShowTime” feel and wanted to hire D’Antoni, they went through the motions with Phil Jackson thinking he wouldn’t want the job (he had told Mitch Kupchak over the summer he was done coaching), but when Jackson expressed real interest the PR game got away from the Lakers’ brass. Lakers’ fans wanted Jackson, they got D’Antoni who, you have to admit even if you think he’s a good coach (and I do), was a terrible fit for that roster.

Now Lakers co-owner Jeanie Buss has updated her memoir “Laker Girl” and included this incident in it (remember she runs the business side of the Lakers with no input on the basketball side, as her father set it up in his trust). The Los Angeles Times published an excerpt on Sunday, starting with the famed late-night call on a Sunday night (after a Saturday meeting) where Kupchak told Jackson they were hiring D’Antoni.

When he hung up, I asked him what that was about, and he said, “Mitch called to tell me they’ve hired D’Antoni. He said that they feel given the personnel they have that D’Antoni is a better fit. He said they know they are going to take a bit of a PR hit, but he thinks it will blow over in a month.”

“He said it will blow over in a month?” I repeated in disbelief….

The sequence of events — Phil almost coming back and then being told someone else was better for the job — practically destroyed me. It almost took away my passion for this job and this game. It felt like I had been stabbed in the back. It was a betrayal. I was devastated.

I felt that I got played. Why did they have to do that? Why did Jim pull Phil back into the mix if he wasn’t sincere about it? .

In the excerpt (and you should read the whole thing, Lakers fans) Jeanie pushes back on the idea that Jackson wanted part ownership of the team or had asked for a ridiculous salary. What we all need to remember during these types of negotiations is everybody spins the story. Everybody. If you want Phil Jackson to look over the top, you say he was asking for the moon.

Not that Lakers fans really ever bought it. The bottom line is they trust Jackson in a way they do not Jim Buss right now, because they know how involved Jackson was in getting them rings.

As I’ve written before, the D’Antoni hiring and Dwight Howard leaving (those two things are certainly linked) are not what will define the Jim Buss legacy — what he does the next five years will (or at least be the foundation of it).

He wants what his father had not long after he purchased the team in 1979 — to both win and be entertaining doing it. Can that be replicated? Jeanie isn’t sold.

The story going around is that my dad pushed for D’Antoni because he wanted to go back to playing Showtime basketball. But there was only one Showtime, never to be replicated. My dad knew that.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss underwent surgery last week

Los Angeles Lakers v Regal FC Barcelona

Lakers owner since 1979 Jerry Buss has been in poor health at points in the last year and the Lakers confirmed the 78-year-old had surgery last week.

What kind of surgery? They won’t say. From the Los Angeles Times.

“He did have surgery and it went fine,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “He’s not home yet, but he’s expected to make a full recovery….”

Buss’ son, Jim, the Lakers’ executive vice president of player personnel, on Friday told Times columnist T.J. Simers that his father got “out of surgery 14 hours ago” when the owner called Friday morning wanting details about the Lakers’ acquisition of Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic.

“I was with him [Thursday] night and he was basically incoherent and he was going to be like that for two or three days,” Buss told Simers.

Remember Jerry Buss was hospitalized last month for dehydration.

He has turned the running of the Lakers over to his son Jim Buss, someone not really trusted at first by Lakers fans because they didn’t know him as anything other than as a horse-training partier (they did know Jeanie Buss, who had worked to cultivate a relationship with the fans).

However, the Lakers moves this summer to land Steve Nash and Dwight Howard have given Jim Buss some real credibility with the large Lakers fan base who think it could be like father/like son.

Kobe Bryant says some really nice things about Jim Buss

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Mike Brown

Kobe Bryant is too smart to go on the Lakers flagship radio station in Los Angeles and rip his boss. He’d have you read between the lines of a terse statement.

But that’s not what he did.

Kobe was on the Mason and Ireland show on ESPN Radio in L.A. (John Ireland is the Lakers radio play-by-play voice) and when asked about Jim Buss gave a pretty glowing response. (Thanks to Brian Kamenetzky of Land O’ Lakers for the transcription).

“We have a good relationship. People misunderstand that relationship. We’ve had good times. We’ve had dinner together, things like that. He’s a great guy. He wants to do the right thing, he wants to help us win a championship. The biggest thing is, the same with his father who he’s learned from, he’s not going to make rushed decisions. He’s going to be patient, he’s going to take his time, and the one thing I will say about the Lakers organization is that this is one of those franchises that always seems to land on it’s feet. Always seems to make the right choices, always seems to make the right decisions. Even the tough ones. He’s a great guy.”

Jerry Buss has been very good at thinking in terms of the big picture during his tenure. He has made the hard choices and done things he may not have wanted to do (bring back Phil Jackson in 2005, for example) because it was the right thing for the business.

Jim Buss has yet to show that kind of vision. Right now the book is still out on him as an owner, we do not have enough information to make an informed decision. There may be signs of concern, but those are short term. What Lakers fans know is they do have a relationship with and trust the more visible Jeanie Buss. Jim did a live chat with fans on the team site yesterday, he needs to do more things like that to start to establish that trust.

But in the end, he will be judged by rings and keeping the Lakers a perennial power. Unfortunately for Jim Buss, he will be judged by the bar his father set.