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

Sep 22, 2013, 7:59 PM EDT

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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.

  1. kb2408 - Sep 22, 2013 at 8:19 PM

    If people don’t think Jim learned anything by sitting next to his dad, the best owner in all of sports, they are just not very knowledgeable. There is a reason why Dr. Buss left control of basketball operations in the hands of his son. Dr. Buss is gone, Dwight is gone and Phil probably is not coming back as the coach of the LAKERS…however, the LAKERS will be fine.

    • phaden27 - Sep 22, 2013 at 8:33 PM

      Nepotism is a hell of a reason. : /

    • asimonetti88 - Sep 22, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      The Lakers’ moves the last couple years haven’t worked out yet, but they have been making good moves. They traded for Chris Paul, they traded for Dwight Howard, they signed Steve Nash… those are all good moves, even if they haven’t worked out as thought. It’s not like they’re sitting on their hands.

      The coaching hires have not been very good, but you can still see the willingness to make moves in player personnel.

      • 00maltliquor - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:50 AM

        Don’t forget pulling out of the Beasley/MIN trade and instead opting to make a deal with HOU for Jordan Hill at the trade deadline. That was a good, smart move. At first I didn’t like it, it wasn’t very splashy…but the end result was genius.

        Sucked we lost a 1st rounder for a one year rental of Sessions. He’s as good a backup as they get and I really, really liked him, despite his debut playoffs perfomance. Wish we could have retained him. The bench would be sweeeet.

  2. losanginsight - Sep 22, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    If she12 was”as all in” since day 1, Phil would have been a great hire. Phil didn’t deserve to coach without everyone being in from the start. Mike D will do good with this current roster. It will be a season long audition for everyone one without 5 Rings. The Lakes will surprise the NBA world next season.

  3. jerdogthompson - Sep 22, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    Learning something and being able to execute should never be confused. As Confucius once said, man walk sideways in subway turn stile Bangkok.

    Let that sink in………

  4. cbking05 - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:00 PM

    I for sure need to buy the book now …

  5. lakerade - Sep 22, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    I wonder if Jim’s in on the TV show deal, with Phil being a producer and all.

  6. 00maltliquor - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:40 AM

    We all were Jeanie. We all were. Keep it moving, nothing to see here……

  7. rajbais - Sep 23, 2013 at 1:37 AM

    I hate to sound mean, but don’t you need to be totally or once famous in order to write a book?

    • antistratfordian - Sep 23, 2013 at 1:51 AM

      I hate to sound mean, but you don’t sound mean you sound ignorant.

  8. thetooloftools - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:36 AM

    Kobe is the only one I trust at this point.

  9. kb2408 - Sep 23, 2013 at 9:23 AM

    Jim Buss made the deal that Stern vetoed to get CP3. Had that deal been allowed the LAKERS would look very different now and so would Jim. You numbskulls seem to forget about that.

    • brookwell2013 - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      Uh, actually, Mitch Kupchak made the CP3 deal that Stern vetoed….there isn’t a GM in the league that will take Jim Buss’ call. He doesn’t have the basketball brains to structure a deal like the three way CP3 deal. This thing will end badly for the Lakers; everyone inside the NBA knows that the Lakers are toast until they get a real basketball guy ultimately running the show. Mitch will be gone soon and he’ll have a dozen offers within weeks of his departure. Cheesh.

      • kb2408 - Sep 23, 2013 at 6:45 PM

        Uh, how do you know that? I guarantee you I follow the LAKERS more closely than you do and from everything I’ve heard and read, Jim AND Mitch made the deal. But of course Jim’s critics won’t give him any credit for it but all the blame for everything else.

      • badintent - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:16 PM

        You Laker fans are really starting to sound a lot like the Yankees fans when it comes to family business deals, huge salaries, massive egos, and more hype than North Korea having Dennis Rodman run the national basketball program and cut deals with the US State Department.

        In other News, Rodman brought Kate Hudson and Carmen Electra to promote North Korea’s nude beach tourist industry.Kardarshians passed on doing business with another NBA player.

  10. malibudave66 - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:31 PM

    I think Phil was the answer last year with that team and feel bad for him and Jennie but this year is different and by adding Kurt Rambis back is like having Phil there! We do have some nice young talent and added Chris Kaman which will turn out great for Pau! It’s really about Kobe and his injury and how Steve does also! Miss Meta already!! Dwight you will see why Shaquille was right about you!!!

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