On Sunday, the Los Angeles Times published an excerpt from Jeanie Buss‘ updated memoir, Laker Girl. In the passage, Jeanie writes about the events surrounding the Lakers’ firing of Mike Brown and ensuing hire of Mike D’Antoni, but only after reaching out to her fiancé Phil Jackson first.
The dirt between the Buss siblings, Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss, has been simmering beneath the surface of all the turmoil facing the franchise this offseason. They lost out on Dwight Howard to Houston, and lost Kobe Bryant to the injury Gods after he tore his Achilles tendon right before the 2013 Playoffs began.
Through it all, the Buss siblings have attempted to present a united front; except, with a host of quotes from inside sources, and information leaking about behind-the-scenes turbulence, we never really believed all was OK in LA especially where Phil Jackson was concerned. Now there’s proof in the form of the updated Jeanie Buss memoir, helpfully reprinted by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday.
First, we’ll provide some context before the money quote from the excerpt: five games into the 2012-13 season, the Los Angeles Lakers fired coach Mike Brown after he started 1-4 and lost the respect of his star-packed roster, including Kobe, Dwight and Steve Nash. Jeanie makes it seem in the memoir as if Brown isn’t given a fair shake — at least according to the Zen Master.
I first heard the rumors on radio. Then, my brother called to tell me it was official. Mike Brown was out.
“I support you in whatever decision you make,” I told Jim. “I understand.”
That’s all I said to him.
Phil called me from the gym after he saw the news on ESPN. “That’s not right,” he said. “It’s not enough time for a coach. I don’t care who it is. You don’t fire a coach five games in.”…
That’s when Jeanie’s brother Jim asks her for Phil’s phone number and wonders whether they can work together despite a rather rocky tenure between the two the last time Phil coached the Lakers.
Jim goes to Phil’s house while Jeanie takes her dog for a drive (LA!). Jim also brought Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak to the meeting despite the coaching search still being — according to Jeanie — in the preliminary stages. Jackson doesn’t have his agent with him, and the talk was only about Jackson’s assessment of individual Laker players rather than any demands should be be offered the position.
Then, Sunday night, Phil gets the phone call from Mitch telling him the Lakers had hired D’Antoni. The news surprised Jackson, and “devasated” Jeanie.