SBD/April 21, 2014/Franchises

Level Of Involvement Among Buss Siblings Within Lakers Organization Examined

Jim Buss (r) said the relationship with his sister Jeanie (l) is business as usual
Many family businesses “struggle after a patriarch dies,” but four of the six Buss children “remain active in the Lakers' operations and the family isn't facing a financial crisis,” according to Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. TIMES. However, like many extended families, “there are disputes and nuances within the relationships.” Late Owner Jerry Buss selected Jeanie Buss to the franchise's "highest position, and she was placed in charge of the team's business operations.” Lakers Exec VP/Player Personnel Jim Buss said of his relationship with his sister: “I hate to burst the bubble of what the perception is. We've worked together for many, many, many years. With the missing piece of my dad, people think we have lost a connection, but that's not true. It's just business as usual.” However, Bresnahan noted interviews with NBA officials, agents, players and current and former team employees “suggest that the communication between the Lakers' business and basketball operations needs some improvement.” According to the family trust set up by Jerry Buss, there is “no doubt, though, who has the final say in the team's day-to-day operations.” Jim Buss said, “If Jeanie and I got into a disagreement, Jeanie can overrule my argument. If she is adamant about the way she wants to do things, all she has to do is say, 'That's the way it's going to be.' But I don't anticipate those kind of arguments. We're two smart people and we respect each other. We're grown up enough to where we can talk things out.”

FAMILY MATTERS: Bresnahan noted although Jeanie and Jim “generate the headlines, their four siblings will hold the swing votes in any major decision about the Lakers' future.” The oldest sibling, Johnny Buss, “hasn't been involved in the sports scene" since leaving an exec role with the WNBA Sparks in '06. While he holds the title of Lakers Exec VP/Strategic Development, "he's rarely seen around the team's headquarters.” Lakers Dir of Charitable Services Janie (Buss) Drexel remains Jeanie's “staunchest ally among the siblings.” NBA D-League L.A. D-Fenders President & CEO Joey Buss is “seen as a possible successor to Jim if the elder Buss steps down.” The youngest sibling, Lakers Dir of Scouting Jesse Buss, “works much more with Jim than any other sibling” (L.A. TIMES, 4/20).

STAYING OR GOING? Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak said that fans’ dislike of coach Mike D’Antoni “would not be taken into consideration” when deciding the coach’s future with the team. Kupchak said, “I know internally we didn’t canvas our 19,000 season-seat holders. We care about what our fans think. We are going to try to get them something better and better every year. Sometimes that decision might not be what the fans want. But over the course of time, I think they’ve come to trust us that it will be the right decision” (LATIMES.com, 4/18).
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