Jerry Buss Rumors
The other one that was very similar was when I traded Norm Nixon. He and Magic Johnson both needed the ball to be successful. Jerry Buss and I talked about them and I said, “I don’t call Magic Johnson ‘Magic Johnson.’ I always call him Earvin Johnson, but he was Magic Johnson when he had the basketball in his hands. When he played and he didn’t have the ball in his hands, he was Earvin Johnson.” I think our fans got to expect Magic Johnson instead of Earvin Johnson. He and Norm were too similar in the way they played the game. They both needed the ball. Those were horrible days for me and I will never forget that Jack Nicholson, who was an incredible Lakers fan, wore black to our games for a solid month. He and I finally had to have a talk about that.
I know there were some communications breakdowns between you and Jerry Buss near the end, but how difficult was it for you, after all those years in the organization, to actually decide to leave the Lakers? It was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life, Larry. Really? Oh yeah. I am very realistic about things. Most people don’t realize that we have a shelf life at one place. My shelf life was up there.
We talked about Lacob and Guber officially taking over the franchise exactly five years ago today and West described what he saw especially in Lacob when they first talked about hiring him soon after. I asked West to compare Lacob to the great owner he worked under with the Lakers, Jerry Buss, and West noted that they got similar results but were almost exact opposite personalities.
MT: Finally, I want to ask you, Jeanie Buss has been involved with the (Lakers and the) NBA for so long and now making the big decisions for the Lakers. What’s that relationship been like between you and her, and Jeanie and the league? Silver: One, it goes back since the day I started in the league. I’ve had a wonderful relationship with her whole family. Her dad was a mentor to me – I learned so much about the business, basketball and the game from Dr. Jerry Buss. And now Jeanie has stepped right into his shoes. She’s very active in league matters; she’s not very public about it, but for example, she was on our labor relations committee last time and is on the committee again. She speaks up in a lot of board meetings, and she gets a lot of respect in the room, especially from this next generation of owners, many of whom are older than she is, but know that she’s been around the league her entire life.
Jim doesn’t deserve the flak he gets from Lakers fans but neither did Mike D’Antoni, who was run out on a rail from the day he was hired instead of Phil Jackson. No, Jim didn’t do that. Jerry Buss did, despite the “stab in the back” charge that Jeanie levelled at her brother. I’ve been talking to Lakers people who were involved since that went down the night of Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. As one said unequivocally: “Dr. Buss was the decision-maker.”
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”