With the Lakers back in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010, team owner Jeanie Buss told Sam Amick of The Athletic in a podcast appearance that MVP runner-up LeBron James has played a key role in “bringing this franchise back to where it should be” and that she’s extremely proud of the fact that he plays for the Lakers.
“I hope he plays for many, many more years. But whatever his term is with the Lakers, he has forever left his mark on this team and this organization and on me,” Buss said of LeBron. “He is somebody that I treasure, and I will protect. I have just enjoyed watching him play and nurture along his teammates and bring out the best in them. He really is the most unique person in the league today.”
Buss’ lengthy conversation with The Athletic touched on several more topics, including some past dysfunction in the Lakers’ front office, the team’s hiring of Frank Vogel in the spring of 2019, the trade for Anthony Davis, and much more.
The discussion is worth checking out in full, but here are a few more highlights from Buss, via Amick:
On prior front office dysfunction and how the Lakers addressed it:
“There were too many voices (in the room), too many leaks, too many people talking and not being on the same page. And so we took the offseason to shore those things up. We like to collaborate together, to be on the same page. It doesn’t mean just a bunch of people agreeing for the sake of agreeing. We like to hash things out, debate, just work through. So yes, the people that I rely on, that I trust — Rob (Pelinka) leading our front office, Kurt Rambis being an adviser, Linda Rambis who I’ve worked with for over 30 years. These are the people that I trust, and then bringing on a coaching staff that reflected those beliefs and that level of collaboration.”
On the scrutiny the Lakers faced following Magic Johnson’s surprise resignation last spring:
“We knew that when Magic stepped down from his position with the Lakers that — (and) while I’m still not exactly clear why (he stepped down), and why it had to be that day — we knew that the outside world would be questioning everything that we were doing and that we just kind of had to let it roll off our backs and just do the work. And we knew that that takes time.
On the acquisition of Anthony Davis:
“It was difficult. I think, probably for me, the hardest thing in this business is trading away players. … (But) it was really the right thing for us to do, because when you have somebody like LeBron James, and where he is in his career, you’ve got to go all in.”
On the Lakers filling out the rest of their roster in 2019’s free agent period:
“(It) was a little odd just because decisions were being, you know, kind of stretched long. But I think we recovered well from the delay. And you know, the roster that Rob Pelinka put together, really you’re now seeing what the vision was, because it is a versatile team that can go big, can go small, and that doesn’t really show until you’re in the playoffs. Well, we hadn’t been in the playoffs for so long it was really hard to see what the vision was and where we were going. But now that we’re in the playoffs, you can see how the versatility of the lineups (works). And that’s really a testament to our front office being led by Rob Pelinka.”