Are the economic times so tough that Lakers owner Jerry Buss would consider cutting out a key part of the Lakers success the last decade? Does he really have the cajones to ask Phil Jackson to take a pay cut? The Los Angeles Times Mark Heisler
But to do so ensures that Jackson walks — it would be a real insult to him, after Jackson saved the Buss family bacon a couple years back. Let us hop in the Way Back Machine and head to the spring of 2005: It is the season after the Lakers traded Shaquille O’Neal away and Rudy Tomjanovich has taken over Phil Jackson’s chair. And the Lakers suck. Really suck. They play a lot of Chucky Atkins and Chris Mihm.
The season ticket holders nearly revolt. A season ticket holder event with Mitch Kupchak has everything but pitchforks and torches. A lot of people are thinking about dumping the tickets.
Then Jeannie Buss orchestrates Jackson’s return. It was expensive ($10 million at the time) but what it saved in terms of ticket holders and sponsors was well worth the money. The Lakers needed Jackson. And he helped turn the team back into a champion. Jackson and Kobe are now tight.
All of that making the likelihood that Buss would ask Jackson to take less money very unlikely. But not impossible, because if one owner would have the stones to play a poker bluff with his franchise, it would be Buss.