Jim Buss Rumors
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.”
Q: Have you ever spoken to David Stern about that? (The NBA owned the New Orleans Hornets at the time and the former Commissioner made the controversial decision) Jim Buss: “Oh, I think there was enough publicity on it to where I didn’t have to say anything. I love David Stern, and we had a great relationship with him as Commissioner. I think probably maybe this year or next year I’ll probably sit down and have lunch with him, to see what the thought pattern was. (Laughs) You have to assume that, ‘What was the thought process behind that? Why would you nix a deal that turned out to be better than the deal (that they vetoed)?…That kind of handcuffed (New Orleans) for years. It didn’t make any sense, but I want to see what they were thinking.”
Q: Looking forward then, there’s so much talk about the timeline of your tenure. But beyond the question of that timeline itself, I’d always wondered if – when it comes to working with your sibling – are those tough conversations to have? (Jim’s sister, Jeanie, has the final say in the organization as Lakers president and governor) Jimm Buss: “Tough conversations? (Jeanie) just listened (laughs). It wasn’t a conversation. It was like Jeanie, ‘You know what, this is my plan. This is what I’m going to do.’ I just put it out there. She didn’t put it out there (publicly). She didn’t put any demands on me. I think it has worked when I put myself on the line. I think people respected that. I think your Laker fans who are worried, I think they got a lot of relief from the fact that I said, ‘Here, don’t worry, this is what we’re going to do, and if I don’t do it, you’ve got somebody else, don’t worry about it.’ I can’t fire myself. I own the team. So really, nothing would change except for I wouldn’t have those (basketball decision-making duties). I would take myself out of the decision (making process). And Jeanie was like, ‘If that’s what you want to do, that’s fine.’”
Q: With you and Mitch, I don’t have a great sense of the dynamic there. You seem like you always get along, but can you shed some light on that relationship. Jim Buss: “Oh, it’s fantastic. I’ve been working with him for probably close to 15 years, as he’s been GM. That right? And I worked with (former Lakers executive) Jerry (West) before that. Of course I was doing more scouting with Jerry and just learning the ropes. What to look for. He has taught me things that are still very, very important to this day, and very insightful. You constantly see that he was right. (West) is right a lot of times (laughs). You can hear very intelligent people talk about it, but I put my money on Jerry West when it comes to his knowledge of the game and what makes a pro.”
Q: I’m going to switch gears on you. Analytics have fast become a major part of the league, and there are plenty of folks who wonder if the Lakers are where they need to be when it comes to advanced statistics. What’s your perspective on that front? Jim Buss: “Do you remember when – and you might not be old enough to remember – but when computers, basically your laptop, first basically came out, the concept was that computers were going to run the world and you’re going to be so much smarter than the next guy because you have a computer. But the truth of the matter is it’s what you put into the computer. The computer just does it faster, quicker, and more accurate than you can because you have to do it by hand, but what you feed into it is the difference. Analytics, in basketball, when you hear that, it doesn’t mean (expletive). It doesn’t. If you tell a guy to break down basketball for you, if they don’t know basketball, they can’t break it down.”