When the Los Angeles Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni as their new head coach in November 2012, it shocked fans who believed the franchise would bring back Phil Jackson for another run.
Not only were fans upset, but Lakers Chief of Business Operations Jeanie Buss also felt some type of way about it. In fact, in the new edition of her memoir Laker Girl, she called it “a betrayal.”
In an excerpt published Sunday (September 22) in the Los Angeles Times, Buss wrote that she felt she “got played,” when D’Antoni was chosen as coach instead of her fiance, Phil Jackson. Ultimately, the decision was made by her brother Jim … and both her and Phil were shocked.
“Why did they have to do that?” Jeanie wrote in the November edition of the book, which was first published in 2010. “Why did Jim pull Phil back into the mix if he wasn’t sincere about it? …
“Phil wasn’t looking for the job, and then he wasted 36 hours of his life preparing for it when they were never in a million years going to hire him anyway.
“How do you do that to your sister? How do you do that to Phil Jackson?”
Jim, in an interview with ESPN earlier this month, Jim said D’Antoini’s hiring was the wishes of his father Jerry Buss, the Lakers’ longtime owner who died in February after an 18-month battle with cancer.
“We did the coaching search and interviews and fed him all the information,” Jim Buss said. “And he said, ‘This is who I want. D’Antoni’s the man.’ Knowing that in the future we had to rebuild, he felt that Phil was not a guy to rebuild. It’s not fair to him. It was actually more of a respectful thought towards Phil.”
Still, Jeanie said there was no need to lead Jackson on, which as why she was upset.