Jerry Buss Rumors
Baxter Holmes: Statement from ex-Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, who was fired from his post Tuesday: “I would like to thank the Buss family for 36 incredible years. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Dr. Buss who brought me here as a player in 1981. I also want to thank every Laker player, coach and staff member with whom I have worked and who supported me through the good times and the very few not so good times. I am most disappointed that I won’t have the opportunity to continue to work with Luke [Walton] and watch this young and talented team grow and eventually win in the Laker tradition. Finally, my best wishes to Earvin Johnson and the Laker organization going forward.”
The Kupchak extension during that same month was a major point of contention. He had a year remaining on his contract, but Jim had convinced Jeanie that star players might look elsewhere if they sensed instability in the Lakers’ front office. Their father, the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss, had always preferred to wait until a contract’s end in matters such as these. Still, with Jim pushing, she gave in.
“Today I took a series of actions I believe will return the Lakers to the heights Dr. Jerry Buss demanded and our fans rightly expect,” Jeanie Buss said. “Effective immediately, Earvin Johnson will be in charge of all basketball operations and will report directly to me. Our search for a new General Manager to work with Earvin and Coach Luke Walton is well underway and we hope to announce a new General Manager in short order. Together, Earvin, Luke and our new General Manager will establish the foundation for the next generation of Los Angeles Lakers greatness.” “It’s a dream come true to return to the Lakers as President of Basketball Operations working closely with Jeanie Buss and the Buss family,” said Earvin “Magic” Johnson. “Since 1979, I’ve been a part of the Laker Nation and I’m passionate about this organization. I will do everything I can to build a winning culture on and off the court. We have a great coach in Luke Walton and good young players. We will work tirelessly to return our Los Angeles Lakers to NBA champions.”
“We were faced with a tougher challenge to always remember who we are,” says Buss. “We’re bigger than any one player or any one owner, the consistency is that fanbase. You can’t just live in the past, peddling the ’80s Showtime Lakers, and expect everyone to know what that is. We have many fans who weren’t even alive in the ’80s. One thing Dr. Buss asked me to do was to make sure the team continues to evolve and to put a new light on the team, and we’ve certainly tried to embrace that vision of his, evolving the brand while paying tribute to the past. That’s what Laker fans expect and what we try to deliver.”
Here’s one for Dr. Jerry Buss. His last call before he passed away was to hire D’Antoni over Jackson, which was wildly unpopular with Laker fans and blamed on his son, Jim, with even Jeanie Buss claiming her brother had done Phil in. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they had multiple bigs in Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard, making them a better fit for Phil’s offense. With Steve Nash’s injuries and Dwight merely passing through with his skepticism of Bryant, it was a steaming mess, and worse for the following two seasons with Kobe playing only 41 of 164 games. Nevertheless, there’s another term you could use for D’Antoni’s small-ball, floor-spacing, high-powered offense: modern basketball.