Jeanie Buss is the Lakers representative on the NBA's Board of Governors, making her as much the primary owner of the team as any member of the Buss family is following the passing of patriarch Jerry Buss in February. She hints at tension between her and brother Jim Buss, writing in the latest edition of her memoir that she wants Jim "to realize that I'm not the enemy." The Los Angeles Times published an excerpt of the updated portion of "Laker Girl" online today that centers around the team's abortive pursuit of Jeanie's fiancee, Phil Jackson, for their coaching vacancy last season. It's plenty revelatory, not just about the Jackson situation but the ongoing dynamics of the Lakers front office, so we'll recap the highlights here:
- Jeanie was moved to tears when the team decided to hire Mike D'Antoni instead. "The sequence of events — Phil almost coming back and then being told someone else was better for the job — practically destroyed me," she writes. "It almost took away my passion for this job and this game. It felt like I had been stabbed in the back. It was a betrayal. I was devastated."
- Jeanie, who oversees the franchise's business operations, says she and Jim had never spoken about basketball before Jim sought her input prior to asking Jackson about his interest in the job.
- Jackson never demanded part-ownership, a "ridiculous" salary, or an arrangement that would have allowed him to miss some of the team's road games, according to Jeanie, but he did ask for input on personnel decisions.
- The Lakers were aware of the negative publicity that choosing D'Antoni over Jackson would bring. When GM Mitch Kupchak called Jackson to tell him that they were going with D'Antoni, Kupchak told him he thought the media firestorm would "blow over in a month," Jeanie writes.