Jerry Buss Rumors
After parting ways with superstar teammate Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant had a Lakers team to call his own, but he eventually grew frustrated with the lack of talent around him. In 2007, Bryant requested a trade from the only team that he had ever known, and for a time it looked as though the Lakers were going to appease him. That’s when owner Dr. Jerry Buss, legendary in his own right, sent a telegram that caused Bryant to change his mind and decide to stay in Los Angeles.
Rob Pelinka, Bryant’s former agent who is now the Lakers General Manager, relayed the story at an ESPNLA event. According to Pelinka, who still has the telegram, it read: “Kobe, as you make this decision, never bet against me winning championships.” According to Pelinka, Bryant read the note from Buss, who was out of town on vacation, and knew that he simply couldn’t leave the Lakers. Over the years Buss had proven that he could build championship-level teams, and if Bryant wanted to win, there was simply no better place to be.
“The choice is the Lakers,” she says crisply. Whatever emotion she’d felt these past few months is long gone from her voice. The emotional sludge underlying this family drama isn’t a few months old. It’s 50 years old. The last three months were just the final act in a play that’s been running their whole lives. “I’m really proud of my sister for putting her business hat on,” Janie Buss says. “I know how hard it was. My dad’s dying wish was to leave the Lakers to all of us and that we would all get along. He’d be sickened if he saw what was going on with my older brothers.” (Neither Jim nor Johnny, through his lawyer, responded to repeated requests for comment.)
Jim resigned as a co-trustee and was replaced by Janie, who firmly supported her older sister; the balance of power, and with it the ability to control the management of the trust, had now shifted firmly toward Jeanie. And on April 3, the court formally granted Jeanie’s petition to compel the three trustees — now Jeanie, Janie and Johnny — to do everything reasonable within their power to ensure she remains the Lakers’ controlling owner and a board member for the rest of her life. The war was over with nary a whimper. “This was not what [Dr. Buss] wanted,” Jeanie says. “But he did empower me that if there was ever a threat, that I had the power and authority to do this.”
Four years after the death of the legendary Jerry Buss, his daughter finally, formally emerged Monday as the powerful leader of Los Angeles’ most powerful sports franchise. The Lakers are now Jeanie Buss’ team. It’s official, it’s indisputable, and it’s for as long as she wants.
Jeanie and brothers Jim and Johnny agreed to a legal stipulation, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, that Jeanie will serve as the Lakers’ controlling owner for as long as the Buss family owns the team. At the same time, Jim, who led the recent attack on Jeanie’s throne, agreed to resign as one of three trustees, surrendering that position to sister Janie, who is Jeanie’s ally. The third trustee is still Johnny, who was also part of the coup but can now count on being outvoted if he decides to challenge his sister again.