Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Lakers' Jeanie and JIm Buss. It's War

Jim and Jeanie Buss, who run the Los Angeles Lakers, are at war. They may try to appear cordial and pretend all is well,  but it's not. Jeanie, who heads the team's business operations, and Jim, who makes the basketball decisions, are waging a bitter conflict.

The center of that conflict? Jeanie's boyfriend, ex-Laker head coach Phil Jackson.

Jackson's proposed move to the New York Knicks, as head of  basketball operations, has made the bad relationship between the Buss siblings take a turn for the worse. Sources close to several people inside the Laker organization report that the siblings are really at each others throats now that Jackson is on the verge of signing with another NBA team.

The Busses barely talk, report the sources, and when they do there's nothing but venom and nastiness. Apparently Jeanie thinks her brother is a stubborn jerk who's running the team into the ground with one bad decision after another, beginning with the hire of head coach Mike D'Antoni, who's been a disaster.

Early last season, the Lakers figured in NBA championship discussions. Now they're prominent in lottery discussions. This is a bad team and Jim has had a hand in dragging it down.

Clearly the Lakers desperately need help. No question Jackson could be the answer. Jeanie has been pushing for him to be hired by the Lakers in some front-office capacity so that the team could take advantage of his considerable expertise. But Jim, who'd have to approve, opposes such a move. He claims it's a business decision but it's no secret that he doesn't like Jackson. In fact he never has. When Jackson, during two terms as Laker head coach, was piling up championships, Jim still didn't like him.

Jeanie is mad at her brother for keeping Jackson out of the Lakers' front office. She has never forgiven Jim for bypassing Jackson in November, 2012 in favor of D'Antoni for the head-coaching job. Legions of  Laker die-hards agree with her. They see Jackson, with more championship rings than fingers, as the savior who could lead the team out of this dark period. Some one has to make smart decisions in the next few years. The die-hards don't think Jim is capable. Apparently, neither does Jeanie.

The sources report that Jeanie isn't happy with Jackson's proposed move, which would create an incredibly awkward situation for her. Imagine, she's a Laker exec and her boyfriend runs another NBA team. Would she, a Laker, go to New York, sit among Knicks' fans and support that team? If Jackson does take that job, it's not clear how she's going to handle that situation.

Jeanie, though, doesn't blame Jackson. She knows he'd prefer working with her on the Lakers--but the team isn't offering him anything. With the Knicks, the team he once played for, offering him complete control, it may be an offer that he can't refuse.

Some observers think Jackson talking to the Knicks is just a ploy to push the Lakers into making him an offer. That, however, is doubtful. This Knicks' situation is for real.

Will Jackson take the Knick job sometime in the next few days? Probably. According to reports, he and the Knicks are putting the finishing touches on a deal.

If he takes that job, Jeanie's life suddenly becomes miserable. In that case, look for the war between the Busses to escalate.