The Lakers may be the only NBA team whose inner workings can be the stuff of a long exposé on a Hollywood entertainment news site, but such is the privilege – or plight – of what the Buss family has wrought over the past three decades.
On Wednesday, a long piece by Ric Bucher was published on the Hollywood Reporter’s website. The story details the transition of power within the Buss family after Jerry Buss’ death in February, and it contains several interesting nuggets not only about the Lakers’ first family, but also about the recent turmoil within the team.
“The shoes they’re stepping into are so huge and epic,” Kobe Bryant is quoted of saying of the Buss siblings in the piece. “It’s on the next generation in line to figure out what their leadership style is going to be and to do it their own way.”
But the insight in the piece isn’t restricted to Bryant; both Jeanie and Jim Buss are given a platform for their opinions, which differ at times. While Jeanie runs the business side of the Lakers, Jim is in charge of the basketball team itself, and at times, their interests inform differing perspectives.
Even on the subject of Dwight Howard, who many of the Lakers devoted have united against in clear-cut hatred, the two seem somewhat at odds. Jim goes so far in the piece as to say that Howard was “never a Laker… just passing through,” while Jeanie expresses disappointment that the big man is no longer on the team.
Even the siblings’ roles seem open to interpretation in the story. “I would be more comfortable if I understood what the decision process was, and I’m not always involved in it,” Jeanie is quoted as saying. “To be held accountable by the league and not have a seat at the table when decisions are made is hard.”
Jim, though, maintains that the family, not just he, runs the team, that he’s simply a figurehead. However, he’s taken much of the blame for the mistakes of the past year, while his sister has remained somewhat out of the path of the ire.
The story is worth a read for any NBA fan, and as dysfunctional as some of it may sound, they’re still the Busses, and these are still the Lakers, and you have to kind of think it’ll all sort itself out.