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Lakers Buss family as a Shakespearian Drama

Mar 4, 2010, 11:27 AM EDT

Oh what a tangled web we weave…

Sometimes the Buss family — owners of the Lakers — come off as crazy as a family in a Shakespearian drama. Well, maybe not Macbeth crazy, but crazy. There is the eccentric patriarch ceding his power and the greedy children trying to push each other out of the way to get the reins. There are lovers as allies, behind the back stabbings, and huge amounts of power and money.

That or everything is just fine. Nothing to see here, move along.

Depends on who you want to believe.

In an article talking about LeBron James making an overture to the Los Angeles Lakers, Roland Lazenby wrote a detailed explanation of the Lakers front office power play going on:

Soon Jackson was winning championships and charging Buss $12 million a season to do it. Buss has hated paying that much for a mere coach, especially one that was tupping his daughter. His counter move on Jackson was to vest power and control in the hands of son Jim, already a competitor with Jeanie Buss for daddy’s love and control of the franchise. The whole scenario has Jeanie quite upset and telling her friends, “They’re going to do this again. They don’t even care if he wins the championship this year.” Jeanie, of course, is making reference to the 2004 firing of Jackson by Jim and Jerry Buss.

She was particularly angered that Jerry Buss entertained former Laker (and rumored Jackson replacement) Byron Scott into the owner’s suite on the night Jackson became the winningest coach in Lakers history. “Jeanie was really upset by it,” the confidant said. “But Phil took the high road… He said (an agent) put Scott in the owner’s suite so he could get the Clippers job. They wanted to make it look like the Lakers were interested to get the Clippers to bite.”

Lakers VP Jeanie Buss — also Phil Jackson’s girlfriend — calls BS on that in an interview with the Kamenetzky brothers of ESPNLosAngeles:

“It’s like a rehash of 2005. What happened was, Phil got to come back and it’s on completely different terms than when he left in 2004. But (the family dynamic) was an interesting part of the drama, so I can see where it’s convenient to bring it all up again. Roland Lazenby wrote a book about Phil when Phil was still coaching the Bulls called ‘Mind Games.’ It’s like he took stuff from that book from over ten years ago and he’s trying to rehash that part. Like Phil has this thing that he’s got to destroy the team that he’s leaving. That any issues that the Bulls have had in the last ten years in because of Phil, which is just crazy.”

Lazenby answered back in his blog:

Is there conflict in the Los Angeles Lakers’ inner sanctum? Of course.

Is it wise for Jeanie Buss to play down such conflict? Yes. In fact, it’s important that they resolve it, which is the point of the two columns I’ve written about it. It was Phil Jackson, not I, who first articulated his displeasure to the New York media earlier in the season over suggestions that he take a pay cut from his $12 million per year salary.

Yea, this is Shakespearian level crazy. All we need to do is put this in iambic pentameter and we are good to go.

Jeanie Buss can deny this all she wants, but it is her people who fuel a lot of this, it is her people who feel she deserves to be running the team and is getting shafted in the deal. She is the one who would have to put an end to this, Lazenby is a journalist and one trying to sell a book right now, he is not looking to lower his profile.

But ending this would rob us of a good drama.

  1. Edward, Los Angeles, CA - Mar 4, 2010 at 12:20 PM

    I swear that I read an article back in 2000 or 01 by the LA Times which described Jim Buss as a spoiled brat kid of Jerry Buss who only got involved with the Lakers because:
    1) He saw the 20 yr old hotties hanging around the 70 yr old Jerry Buss and Jim wanted some of that,
    2) and he’s a son (as opposed to daughter) of Jerry Buss.
    Jeanie Buss deserves to be at the helm, she has done more for this organization than Jim did. And Jim stuck up for Bynum whose agent screwed the Lakers (and thereby screwed Ariza). If you recall, Jerry Buss had relinquish control of the Lakers a few years back but because of the sh*tstorm Jim caused in the front office, Jerry had to come back to run the team.
    I respect Jeanie Buss, she should run the team based on merit. Jim should not be running the team simply because he’s the “male heir” to the Buss throne.

  2. Triple A. Los Angeles - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:03 PM

    In addition to what Edward says in above post, there is also much drama in the team portion of the Lakers. Everyday we here in Los Angeles have to listen to: is Kobe staying or leaving at the end of his contract?, Is Jackson staying or leaving at the end of his contract?. Can Pau and Bynum co-exist on the floor?, Why is Bynum such an untouchable on the team? Everyone talks about what he occasionally does and his possible upside. And now talk show hosts are wondering why doesn’t Kobe and Fisher run the team the way Magic ran his team. Hold people accountable for their inactions. Besides Ron Artest, why can’t anyone guard anyone – especially quick little guards.
    But the overall feeling is that as long as they are winning all this drama (hopefully not tragedy)is way on the back burner. BUT…if the Lakers don’t win the Championship this season, WATCH OUT. Things could blow up very quickly. Shakespeare would be proud.

  3. Ken - Mar 4, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    I think the Lakers are boring right now because of the competition. But I can bet my house when the playoff come, the Lakers will be even better than last year. But I understand fans are nervous with the way Lakers have played this year which is very inconsistence.

  4. johnny - Mar 4, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    i do think that jeannie buss would be more qualified to take the reigns of the lakers. after seeing how jim has no concept when it comes to representing the lakers when they won the chamnpionship last year. i remember jim mentioning how the lakers were behind the celtics in the number of championships they won during the finals trophy ceremony. it was completely stupid. this was the lakers’ moment. he shouldn’t have even been mentioning the celtics. they weren’t even in the the finals for damn sake. and here he is giving a nod to the celtics won the moment belonged to the lakers. totally inappropriate and senseless. he just doesn’t have it.

  5. Edward, Los Angeles, CA - Mar 4, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    @johnny
    I saw an interview with Jim Buss this past summer (after his horrid speech) where he said that Jerry’s plan was to cycle the responsibility of speaking for the Buss family should the Lakers win in the Finals again. I hope Jeanie speaks this year and I hope the fact that Jim was the first Buss (not named Jerry) to speak doesn’t mean Jim is the frontrunner to take over for Jerry when he retires.

  6. JupiterJack-J - Mar 5, 2010 at 12:50 AM

    As a fan of the Lakers here in L.A. for almost 40 years, I think they should sell the team at it’s peak for top value, and no “kid” gets the team. Jeanie can go live with Phil, Jim can go back to his rails in his penthouse suite, and dad go go back to Carlsbad and chase whatever is left of whoever cares about him and how rich he is, or play poker all day and night if he wants. He deserves it, he made the Lakers who they are, and the kids will honestly never do what their dad was able to do, they will NEVER be able to shake his shadow, and not because they aren’t mearely good enough, but Jerry has a huge shadow to get out from under. I’d hate to be Jerry Jones’ kid, or Bill Gates, or Rupert Murdoch’s for that matter. Sell the team, their’s plenty of buyers, I’d even buy them!

  7. wizard of Ozola - Mar 5, 2010 at 2:39 AM

    the easy way out of all this drama, is a. Jennie goes on Oprah. b. pray a large earthquake destroys Staples Center, or c. Phil go across the street to coach the Cippers.!! hahahhaah

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