After Kobe Bryant publicly called out Los Angeles Lakers management last week, demanding that they get on the same page moving forward, president Jeanie Buss made it clear Thursday (March 20) that she’s the boss of the team.
In an hourlong interview on ESPN Radio, the 52-year-old daughter of the late Jerry Buss said she is the voice and final say when it comes to Lakers decisions.
“Ultimately I am the one voice. I am that person. I’m at the top of the food chain,” Buss said.
“In my position, I empower people that are in positions to do their jobs. [Executive VP of player personnel] Jim Buss and [general manager] Mitch Kupchak are responsible for all basketball decisions. They are empowered to do that. My job is to make sure, as a boss, that I provide them the tools to do the job successfully. But it’s up to them to make the day-to-day decisions on how they operate their area of the business.”
Jeanie also said that on major decisions, such as whether to offer Phil Jackson (her fiance) a formal role with the franchise, Buss said that she prefers to “build consensus” among the other siblings and shareholders.
“When it comes to major decisions in any area of the organization, I like to the get the blessings of the shareholders — of which my siblings are the majority — and build a consensus even if it isn’t something that all of them agree on,” Buss said. “I like to build a consensus and work as a team.”
While she admitted that “selfishly I wanted it to be in the same office so we could carpool together,” ultimately the siblings did not agree on a role of as much power as Phil has been given as president of the New York Knicks, where owner James Dolan said that he was ceding final say in basketball matters to Jackson.
“I think people need to understand: It isn’t just Phil. They don’t need anybody else. Everything is covered,” Buss said. “There is no additional need for anybody to come in. Jimmy and Mitch have a like mind in how they see the game and what they want to accomplish with this team and they have it under control. They don’t need another voice, whether that’s Phil or whoever. It isn’t about Phil; they don’t need another voice, they’ve got it covered. I understand that and I respect that and I’m happy for them.”
Later, Jeanie also expressed full confidence in the abilities of both her brother Jim and Kupchak to turn things around for the franchise moving forward… especially in recruiting great players to help rebuild. “I think the Lakers are a legacy franchise,” she said. “Players know when they come here, this is the ultimate platform. They have to want to play in the style that this team is being built as. It’s got to fit for the free agent. I don’t think a free agent is not going to consider the Lakers. I’m not worried about that in any way, shape or form.”
The six Buss siblings own the Lakers in trust and are its majority owners. Anschutz Entertainment Group, real estate developer Ed Roski and world-renowned doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong are the other investors.