This hasn’t been a good year for the Los Angeles Lakers. While the team languishes near the bottom of the NBA standings, stars Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash have missed most of the season due to injuries. On top of that, fans of the team just had to watch Laker coaching legend Phil Jackson take over basketball operations for the New York Knicks. But now Jackson’s fiancee is reasserting control of the franchise.
On Thursday Lakers president and governor Jeanie Buss made it clear that the final say with all team matters lies with her now. She invoked a phrase her father, Dr. Jerry Buss, used when referring to his actions involving the franchise, calling her power the “final hammer.”
During an interview on the “Mason and Ireland” show on ESPNLA 710, Buss said flat out, “I’m the boss.” She claimed she was responsible for any decisions made with the team.
“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 basketball operations. They are empowered to do that. My job is to make sure, as a boss, that I provide them with 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.”
On the recent decision not to offer Jackson a formal position within the franchise, Buss claimed she prefers to “build consensus” among her other siblings (there are six Buss children) and shareholders. She said that ultimately the group could not envision a spot for Jackson within the franchise.
While Buss wasn’t saying anything we didn’t already know, it’s interesting that she went public so forcefully. Since Jackson retired from the Lakers many observers of the organization have believed that Jim Buss was attempting to exert more influence and essentially usurp his sister’s position. The hiring of Mike Brown as the team’s head coach instead of Brian Shaw – who was Jackson’s hand-picked successor – and the replacing of Brown with Mike D’Antoni instead of Jackson last season were both seen as power moves by Jim.
Whatever the case, Jeanie Buss clearly felt the need to put it out there that she is the boss and she gets the final say on matters regarding the franchise.