Jerry Buss Rumors
Mark Medina: Mitch Kupchak on Magic saying Jim Buss doesn’t give him enough authority to make decisions: “I have the same authority I had w/ Dr. Buss. Jerry West had the same authority with Dr. Buss. I’ve got that same authority with Jimmy. Jimmy and I work very closely together”
Buss, 30, also has an important role with the Lakers. “I serve as an alternate governor on the Board of Governors,” he said. “I’ve been doing that over six years now.” His sister Jeanie Buss is the Lakers’ president and governor. The team’s patriarch passed away in February 2013, to cancer complications. “Fortunately my father was very organized for us,” said Joey. “He did a lot of the estate planning. He set up everything up in such a way that it was very easy for us to pick up and go.”
“[He] asked me when I was coming home,” said Scott, who grew up in Inglewood. “I came to a couple of games and we stayed in contact, but never really talked about me coaching the team. He asked me my opinion of the team, but never talked about coaching the team.”
Magic Johnson was on hand on Monday when the Lakers welcomed his former teammate, Byron Scott, as the Lakers’ next head coach. Had Scott not taken the Cleveland Cavaliers job in 2010, he might have been hired by then-owner Jerry Buss after Phil Jackson retired after the 2010-11 season. “Dr. Buss was going to make Byron the coach when Phil didn’t know what he was going to do” in 2010, said Johnson. “Byron took the Cleveland job, and he took it too early. I called and said: ‘B., you took the job too early. Dr. Buss wanted you to be the coach.”
Johnson said Dr. Jerry Buss, late owner of the Lakers, wanted to hire Scott. “We were in a suite,’’ Johnson said Tuesday. “(Buss) called me up there and he said, ‘Ervin, you know, I would love, I think, for Byron to coach this team one day.’ And Dr. Buss was going to make Byron the coach when Phil (Jackson) didn’t know what he was going to do.’’ But Scott took the head coaching job with the Cleveland Cavaliers. “I called him and said, ‘B, you took that job too early!” Magic recalled. “‘Dr. Buss wanted you to be the coach.’”
Roland Lazenby: Phil said Kupchak and Buss picked D’Antoni over him because they were looking for a long-term coach. At least it’s a reasonable explanation
But the fans are one thing. Does him being gone cut into your ability to get players’ attention when it comes to the perception of the franchise now? Mitch Kupchak: You know something? I don’t think players think that way. I was a player many, many years ago, and I didn’t think that way. I knew who Dr. Buss was, but he wasn’t really a factor other than he wanted me to come to L.A. At that point, he made a very fair offer and the city of Los Angeles — I was happy in Washington but I had the opportunity to come to L.A. Play with Magic, play with Kareem, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain. To me, that’s what I thought about as a player. I didn’t really say, ‘Oh, it’s Dr. Buss. I’ve got to go play for this guy.
Byron Scott? The leading scorer for the 1987-88 championship Lakers was known to be on the short list of late owner Jerry Buss and would no doubt make some of the incensed fans happy. But Scott, who is an analyst on the Lakers’ regional network, has a losing record overall (416-521 for the New Jersey Nets, New Orleans Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers) and had his worst stint yet in three seasons with the Cavaliers. If Jerry Buss’ dying wish of seeing “Showtime” 2.0 is still a priority to his children who are trying to find their way without him, then Scott’s name is worth remembering.
Lakers president and governor Jeanie Buss made it clear Thursday that the final say, the “final hammer” as Dr. Jerry Buss used to call it, lies with her now. “I’m the boss,” Jeanie Buss said in an hourlong interview on the “Mason and Ireland” show on ESPNLA 710 radio Thursday. “I am responsible ultimately for anything with the team and decisions that are made. “In my position, I empower people that are in positions to do their jobs. [Executive vice president of player personnel] Jim Buss and [general manager] Mitch Kupchak are responsible for all basketball decisions. They are empowered to do that. My job is to make sure, as a boss, that I provide them the tools to do the job successfully. But it’s up to them to make the day-to-day decisions on how they operate their area of the business.”
Since the Los Angeles Lakers are under new ownership following the death of their previous owner, Jerry Buss, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn’t believe the Lakers will ever be the same. “Jerry Buss was the Lakers, so I don’t know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers,” Cuban said prior to the Mavs’ 94-89 win over Boston on Monday. “I don’t think there was a smarter owner in the history of the NBA than Jerry Buss, so that’s tough to replace. “I don’t think people realize just how good of an owner Jerry was. I looked up to him a lot. Absolutely. So I don’t know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers.”
Buss died of cancer on Feb. 18, 2013 at the age of 80 after owning the Lakers since 1979. So why was Buss such a great owner? “He just understood fans, entertainment, players, how to balance all of it together, how to deal with the NBA, when to listen to (ex-NBA commissioner) David (Stern) and when to ignore him and when to tell him what to do,” Cuban said. “He had that breath of skills that every time I spoke to him — usually I’m used to doing to the talking, just force of habit. “But he’s one of the few people that when we sat down I did all the listening. So I don’t think there’s any question he’s by far the best owner in the history of the NBA. No exception.”
And then when I got to Italy I was like, “What the hell am I doing over here?” I’m going over here to a foreign country and, you know, “What the hell?” I flew into Venice, and the Venice airport is on the mainland, and the city is out in the ocean, so it was like, “Shit.” I have seen redemption in my life. I mean, I’ve experienced it. I was walking the path. I know about God. But it was just leaving that baggage, leaving your luggage alone. You know, you’re dropping your bags right there and saying, “Hey, I know what I need to do. I know who’s waiting for me.” Through the Lakers, through Jerry Buss, through Bill Sharman, God intervened and sent me off to Italy in order for me to get my sanity. Italy was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Jerry Buss’ sexual conquests are legendary, and you discuss some of his courting rituals in the book. How many women would you estimate that he slept with in his life? If not an exact number, then a possible range? I couldn’t venture to guess, but probably not as many as Magic. Jerry Buss was a fascinating man. Just fascinating. Because while women were certainly eye candy to him, they weren’t disposable pieces of plastic. He put many through college, paid for apartments, career starts, etc … etc. I’m sure he slept with many of them because, well, if I were Jerry Buss, I’d certainly sleep with a lot of them. But I do believe there was an element of showmanship, and also a longing for genuine companionship. And big breasts, too.
Q: Is there any scenario where you get back in that mix? I’ve heard some chatter that you could become even more involved there, and there’s this idea that time heals all wounds and even though the way the coaching situation went down was botched that you could play a role, whether with (general manager) Mitch (Kupchak) in the front office or something else. Is that plausible at all? Phil Jackson: I don’t think so. I have a good relationship with the vice president in business affairs (Jeanie Buss) — at least it has been pretty good (laughs). She’s dedicated to their family running the business and trying to feel what that’s like. Their father’s memorial service is not a year old, but he has been gone for a year now and they’re still just kind of figuring out, ‘How are we going to do this?’ So I think they want to have an opportunity to do it. And Mitch, obviously, has a relationship with (Lakers executive vice president of player personnel and Jeanie’s brother) Jimmy that has been going on since, I think, 2004 or so, when he started becoming really involved. So for the last 10 years, he and Mitch have been pretty much working together. (Late Lakers owner) Dr. (Jerry) Buss came in on things. We had a few issues. Kobe (Bryant) had an issue one year. We had an issue getting Pau (Gasol). Some of the major moves, Dr. Buss was still there. But the other stuff Jimmy and Mitch have been working on. They’ve got a relationship, so I don’t see that happening.
In addition, the team honored Buss, elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, with a video tribute at halftime. “He is a man who was way ahead of his time,” Magic Johnson said in the video. “He understood entertainment value, he understood history, he understood how to bring the best basketball players together as well as the best management team and provide entertainment to this great city, but also to the world at the same time.”
A day after what would have been the late Dr. Jerry Buss’ 81st birthday, the Los Angeles Lakers celebrated the legendary team owner’s life during their game against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday. The Lakers presented their fans in attendance with bobblehead dolls depicting Buss sporting his trademark mustache and clutching the Larry O’Brien Trophy, representing one of the many titles the franchise won under his watch. Pictures of Buss, as well as of the “JB” patch the team wore last season in his honor, were also printed on the Lakers tickets for Tuesday’s game purchased by season-ticket holders.
Jackson didn’t question too much on being passed up for the vacant head-coaching job last year that went to Mike D’Antoni. Instead, Jackson admired Lakers late owner Jerry Buss for his decisiveness, including being proactive in drafting Magic Johnson in 1979, which led to the Showtime Era. Q: How about Buss’ son? Phil Jackson: “I think Jim is kind of feeling his way. He doesn’t really know all of the ramifications of basketball,” Jackson said. “I think one of the things that Dr. Buss did, was he left a lot of basketball decisions to basketball people and then he would make the final [call].”
Added Johnson: “Everybody’s telling me free agents don’t want to sign [with the Lakers]. … They’re looking at the Lakers now as a team that’s dysfunctional; who’s their leader, who’s the guy?” The Lakers (14-25) are in one of the worst slumps in franchise history, losing 12 of their last 13 games. They fell to 14th place in the Western Conference with a 121-114 loss at Phoenix on Wednesday. “Dr. Buss was smart,” Johnson said. “He said, ‘I’m going to get the best dude, Jerry West, and he helped me achieve my goals. Then I went and got the best coach [Phil Jackson].’ He wanted to work with the best.”
Johnson, whose Hall of Fame playing career included five NBA titles in 13 seasons with the Lakers, says owner Jim Buss needs to take a few pages from the book written by his father, Jerry Buss, who made the Lakers one of the most successful and entertaining franchises in professional sports. “This is what happens when you make the wrong decisions, two coaching wrong decisions, giving Steve Nash that deal, it’s backfired,” Johnson said during a meeting at The Times between Dodgers officials and Times writers and editors. Johnson is a part owner of the Dodgers. “The biggest problem they’re going to have right now … you’ve got to get a guy like Jerry West to be the face of the team. … You’ve got to have someone helping Jim. He’s got to quit trying to prove a point to everybody that he can do it on his own, get his ego out of it, and just say, ‘Let me get someone beside me to help achieve the goals I want.’ ”
Laker fans still skewer Jim for hiring Mike D’Antoni, rather than bringing back Jackson. Jeanie, Phil’s significant other, updated her book, “Laker Girl” to note she felt “stabbed in the back,” then announced that she had her brother had talked it out. Actually, myriad sources agree that passing up Jackson was Jerry Buss’s last call. If success has many fathers, the blame for what’s happening to the Lakers requires only one son.
We don’t want to speak ill of the dead or the SoCal legend, but long-time Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who died earlier this year, built himself a pretty hideous mansion in Playa del Rey back in 1998. (Someone obviously disagrees–after just a week on the market, the house has a pending sale.) It comes with seven bedrooms, nine and a half bathrooms, and 10,846 square feet with a three-stop elevator, a library, game room with bar, four-car garage, rooftop deck with spa, a pretty insane master suite with a spiral staircase and marble bath and shower surrounded by, naturally, columns. But the columns and the fountains and the tiling, and the weird beams don’t stop there! They are literally everywhere. Asking price is $5.95 million.
Phil Jackson: Dr Buss always wanted people to know Bill Sharman was the architect of the Laker of the 80’s. He will be missed greatly by all who knew him.
The three decided it would be good for Jeanie Buss and Mike D’Antoni to finally talk. Mike D’Antoni confirmed he had a great meeting with Jeanie Buss within the past 10 days. They also spoke during a Lakers’ coaching staff party hosted by Mike’s brother Dan D’Antoni, a Lakers assistant. “Now everybody is on the same team and we’re pulling in the same direction trying to get this done,” Mike D’Antoni said. “It was inevitable. It had to happen the other way, but this is a good spot we are in, no doubt.”
The February passing of Lakers owner Jerry Buss – Jeanie’s and Jim’s father – also might have contributed to D’Antoni and Jeanie not speaking much until recently. “I don’t think anything was personal, but it was tough for everybody,” D’Antoni said. “There was a grieving process they had to go through. Our chemistry wasn’t good on the team. There was a lot of stuff. “But I never felt anything but good support from the family from the basketball side. Mitch, Jim, they’ve been great. That definitely is a strength of us.”
Jim and Jeanie didn’t communicate because they trusted that their father knew best, that he would always make the right call. Given his track record, that was not only understandable but also wise. Even when things didn’t turn out the way they might have hoped — as was the case with the Paul trade — there was still comfort in knowing Jerry Buss had made the final decision. But that comfort is gone. Sister and brother have to make decisions without their father’s input, trusting their instincts and hoping all they learned from him will be enough. As anyone who has lost a parent knows, those steps are unsteady for a long time.
In conversations I had with Jim Buss earlier this month, I was struck by how deeply he not only respected his father’s opinion but also relied on it. Several times over the past couple of seasons, Jim had the opportunity to assume greater power or to make decisions on his own. Each time, he went out of his way to involve his father and give him the final say. “He’d say, ‘Jim, you have the final hammer,'” Buss said. “I said, ‘No, I don’t. My final hammer is to say you are the final hammer.'”