The present situation with the Los Angeles Lakers is bizarre. Jeanie Buss, the team’s executive vice president and brains behind the most popular brand in the NBA, still defers to her older brother, Jim Buss, on basketball decisions. But she is engaged to Phil Jackson, and she revealed to the Los Angeles Daily News’ Mark Medina that the Zen Master still consults for the Lakers.
Jim Buss famously gave the Lakers head coaching job to Mike D’Antoni last season after Mike Brown was terminated when he opened the season 1-4. The decision was a quick one and came after Jackson had expressed interest in returning to the bench for the purple and gold. The Lakers illuminati have since booed the selection especially after last season’s disappointing first round playoff exit, Kobe’s injury and Dwight’s decision to flee to Texas.
But Phil’s fiancé says he’s still a part of the Lakers family and there’s no festering sore between her and her older brother, Jim:
“I think we’re in good hands with our front office,” said [Jeanie] Buss, referring to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak and her brother, Jim, the team’s vice president of basketball operations. “Jim and Mitch know Phil is a phone call away. He’s always available. He would always do anything to help, support or listen. It’s like we’re all family.”
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak also weighed in for Medina’s piece, saying that Phil does have a sporadic consultant’s role with the team — implicitly because of his engagement to Jeanie Buss:
Kupchak confirmed Jackson ‘s revelation that they talked “in the past couple of weeks” about unspecified issues concerning the Lakers.
“I’m not sure why somebody like Phil isn’t working for an NBA club right now,” Kupchak said. “He has so much to offer to any franchise. Even though he doesn’t have an official role with us, he’s a consultant of sorts.”
Jackson, for his part, didn’t discuss specifics when asked about his role within the Lakers organization, but he did say he’d reached out to Dwight Howard during the year to provide support during a difficult season after the previous summer’s back surgery. Said Phil to D-12:
“I just basically said let your play do your talking for you. You’ve come through a difficult operation. I went through that. It took me a full year to recover and more and you’ve done it in short order,” Jackson said, referring to back surgery. “‘Remember defense and rebounding is the key to this game and the other stuff falls behind that.’”
Jackson also weighed in on Kobe Bryant‘s convalescence after he had surgery to repair the Achilles’ tendon he tore in the regular season’s final week:
“Kobe’s got that determination and as long as he doesn’t over do it, he’ll come back,” Jackson said. “It’s hard for him not to. His goal is another championship. He also has a chance to replace Michael Jordan in the all- time scoring list.”
Jeanie acknowledged she was upset when her fiancé was passed over for Mike D’Antoni early last season, but she said it’s all family stuff and she even teases Jim about it now.
“I was not happy with how things happened,” Buss said. “It was a difficult process to go through. I was disappointed, but I’m biased. I don’t think anybody would judge me to say (Phil) is the best coach in the entire world. That’s my prerogative to feel that way.”
Have Jeanie and Jim resolved their differences?”It’s something I can always tease him about,” Jeanie said, smiling. “That’s what families do. You always bring up things. Everyone always has family issues and maybe that was something I can tease him about.”
So, in conclusion, Phil still consults the Lakers from time to time; Jeanie thinks Phil is the best basketball coach in the world, so she’s a little peeved the Lakers — i.e. her brother Jim — didn’t bring him back last season; the supposed acrimony between Jeanie and Jim is overblown, but she does tease him occasionally since “that’s what families do,” and Mitch Kupchak is probably a little put off while acting as a buffer between Jim Buss and Phil Jackson (we made that last part up, but that seems to be his situation from the outside looking in).
The Lakers organization is like a really entertaining and well-acted soap opera with high production costs.
What do you think?
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