The Los Angeles Lakers have been experiencing the effects of drama within their organization due to owners Jeanie Buss and her siblings, a struggling season, and a lack of options for free agents.
The Lakers were bought by Jerry Buss in 1979, who drafted Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. His son, Jim Buss, joined the team as the assistant general manager, and Jeanie was soon promoted to Vice President of business operations. The idea was that if Jerry stepped down, Jeanie would take over the business side of the team while Jim managed the basketball side.
Jim has not always made the most excellent choices for the Lakers. After Shaquille O’Neal left the team, he brought in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. While everyone expected the move to lead them to a championship as they already had Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, they struggled to make it to the playoffs and ended the season with multiple injuries. Jim also hired Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson, who was Jeanie’s husband.
In 2013, Jerry Buss passed away and, as planned, Jeanie took over as franchise president while Jim managed basketball decisions. All six Buss siblings ended up inheriting their father’s 66 percent stake in the team.
After a few small scuffles, Jeanie finally fired Jim in February 2017, replacing him with Johnson, who was done playing basketball and was ready to work behind the scenes.
Senior Sam D’Urso says, “I was really excited to hear Magic Johnson was chosen to be an advisor for the team. He has so much more experience and understands what the team needs to win.”
However, Johnson might not stay for long. Jeanie most recently went to Los Angeles County Superior Court to obtain a restraining order against Jim and her other brother Johnny to prevent them from demolishing the team’s board of directors and herself.
While all this may just seem like family drama, it is actually affecting the franchise. Most basketball fans do not often pay attention to the people who help run some of their favorite teams in the board rooms, and do not truly understand the effect board members have on the team.
With all of this turmoil, the team looks bad to anyone willing to deal with them, including free agents. Considering the team went 19-39 this season, the Lakers could definitely use a few new players, but no one will want to work with the team if they do not know who will be in charge. Depending on how this ends, players could be fired, impacting the team. There is also some belief the brothers might sell the team for the money for their own personal use.
This type of drama is not completely unheard of in basketball, though. Owner of the New York Knicks James Dolan is constantly under fire for being bad at his job. During the time the team has been under his control, the team has only won one playoff series. As a result, free agents flock to Miami, Los Angeles and Cleveland over New York.
Lakers fan and junior Gabby Tuscano says, “I’m kind of doubting the team is gonna have a good season just because of everything that is going on with the Buss family. All of this drama means they aren’t focusing on the team and draft and we might make some poor decisions.”
So whose side are you on, Jeanie’s, her brother’s, or neither?