The Buss family was once described to me as a Shakespearian drama — the strong patriarch and beloved king holds the family and kingdom together, but someday the fight for power among his children will potentially destroy everything their father built.
Right now, Jerry Buss still owns the Lakers. His son Jim runs the basketball side of the operation, his daughter Jeannie the business side. Four other children are involved at various levels and will someday be part owners. Jerry Buss, 79, has been hospitalized a couple times in recent years and has not been to a Lakers game in more than a year.
The Lakers have more than enough on-the-court issues to keep fans distracted this season, but another and potentially larger issue is brewing behind the scenes, reports Kevin Ding of Orange County Register.
Well … Jeanie and Jim aren’t speaking to each other.
They haven’t since Mike Brown was fired as Lakers coach in early November and the Lakers went through that unseemly, confusing, hurtful dance with Phil Jackson – the love of Jeanie’s life and now her fiancé – before hiring Mike D’Antoni.
And before you say “Jeanie should buy out Jim, bring back Phil and all will be right with the world” know that it’s not going to work that way.
Details are scarce as to how Buss’ trust is set up, but it is believed that amid all the complicated rules and regulations, the children agreed previously to heed their father’s wishes and structure the trust to keep that majority ownership in the family. The six children (Johnny, Jim, Jeanie, Janie, Joey and Jesse) are believed to be locked in together by the trust – so that they stay together or they sell together.
The potential scenarios are nearly endless. There are groups reportedly buzzing about ready should the Buss family want to sell, although I had been told years ago that AEG (owners of Staples Center and a percentage of the Lakers) had first right of refusal. Of course, AEG is up for sale and parts may be broken off, making the situation all the more complex.
It could end up with absentee owners — the proverbial prince/princess banished from the kingdom — but it could go a lot of ways. Just something else for Lakers fans to worry about, as if there aren’t enough other issues this season.