These are confusing times for Laker fans. Their team was the first in the entire league to eliminated from the playoffs this season, and Phil Jackson has jetted off to New York to help turn around the Knicks as opposed to sticking around in Los Angeles and working for the Lakers.
So, what’s going on?
The reason the Lakers passed on Phil’s services was explained last week, though the Zen Master’s departure left a lot of fans with a number of questions.
In order to try and calm the fan base, Jackson’s fiancé, Jeanie Buss, took part in an extended sit-down interview with Time Warner Cable SportsNet’s Bill Macdonald shortly after Phil was introduced to the New York media on Tuesday.
During the conversation, Jeanie made it clear that she was at the top of the Lakers’ food chain.
“Ultimately, the buck stops with me. I’m president and governor of the team and I have empowered the basketball operations, the front office, to put together a basketball team based on working within the confines of the collective bargaining agreement and putting together the best team that they possibly can,” Buss said, referring to her brother Jim Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak. “But ultimately I feel like I’m an advocate for the fans. I love when they reach out to me and I understand their frustration and I feel the same way they do. I don’t like this season. I don’t like being eliminated from playoff contention.”
Jeanie’s father, Dr. Jerry Buss, placed Jeanie in the business side of the organization, though she also inherited his title as the team president and governor after he passed away in 2013. This means that Buss attends league events on behalf of the Lakers, and, in theory, makes her the most powerful member of the organization.
However, it needs to be noted that Buss stays out of basketball decisions. As Jeanie said, she “empowered” Mitch and Jim to make personnel moves, which means that – as far as we know – she stays out of the process.
Jeanie has admitted in the past that she would be no good as a member of the basketball operations as she gets too attached to players, and this is likely why Dr. Buss put her in the position she’s in.
Jeanie’s a great people person – she’s smart too – and that enables her to not only run the business side of the team successfully, but also to be the face of the franchise.
As Jeanie said in the interview, she’s “an advocate for the fans.” She can be that buffer between Jim – who prefers to not do interviews – and the fan base. She can talk up at times like this and attempt to reassure Lakerland that everything’s going to be all right.
“I have complete confidence in Jimmy and Mitch to put together the kind of team that Laker fans are used to,” Buss said.
If Jeanie’s confident, you should be, too.