If there was any doubt about who is in charge of the Los Angeles Lakers front office, all that was put to bed on Thursday as team president and part owner Jeanie Buss stated the buck stops with her.
“I’m the boss,” Jeanie Buss said in an hourlong interview on the Mason and Ireland show on ESPNLA 710 radio Thursday. “I am responsible ultimately for anything with the team and decisions that are made.
“In my position, I empower people that are in positions to do their jobs. [Executive vice president 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.”
Buss also explained that she and her six siblings along with other share holders in Anschutz Entertainment Group, real estate developer Ed Roski and world-renowned doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong make decisions built off of “consensus,” but added that the final say ultimately lies with her.
“Ultimately I am the one voice. I am that person. I’m at the top of the food chain,” Buss said.
This is the first complete season that the Buss children will be running the Lakers’ organization without their father, Jerry Buss, who passed away in February of 2013. Over the past year and a half, it has been tough for the franchise as the team’s front office has faced major criticism mostly aimed at Jim Buss for Los Angeles’ lack of success on the court this season.
However, despite the lack of success this season capped off with the Lakers becoming the first team in the NBA to be eliminated from playoff contention in March, Jeanie has faith in her brother to get the job done by once again bringing the Lakers back in the thick of things in regards to championship contention.
“I have faith that Jimmy knows what he’s doing,” Buss said. “He learned under my dad. He’s got a certain style of basketball that he wants to see this team play.”
She also added that she has been assured that by her brother and Mitch Kupchak that the team will improve next season either through the draft or free agency. As for acquiring players via free agency, Buss is not worried that players won’t come to Los Angeles because she believes that Lakers are the best option in the entire league.
As for the decision not to bring Phil Jackson into the front office, Buss stated that she detached herself from the situation given the fact that she felt she was biased because Jackson is her fiancée. But she felt that her brother and other siblings felt that neither Jackson nor anybody else was needed to help the organization through this troubling season and beyond
Buss said if her brother and Kupchak do ultimately fail at bringing the team back into championship contention, she is not against making what she feels are necessary changes.
In my position, I can make changes,” she said. “I can make changes across the entire organization. If John Ireland doesn’t do his job, in his radio broadcast play-by-play, then we would make that change.”
“If the Laker Girls drop down in caliber and couldn’t do a dance number, then we’d make changes there. I think you should have that same confidence in our entire organization, including basketball.”
When asked if she believes that Kobe Bryant‘s two-year, $48.5 million extension was worth the price, Buss defended the team’s all-time leading scorer as she feels that he will return as a major contributor to the team.
“I believe that Kobe will come back from this injury and he will be the Kobe that we always know he can be,” she said. “He has so many different degrees to his game. I’m confident that he will be productive in the next two seasons.”
“You can judge that years from now when you look back,” she said. “I think he will be a huge contributor to this team going forward, in terms of mentoring young players, in terms of attracting other free agents who are like minded, that want to play, that want to win, that want to be successful. He’s an asset, I don’t know how anybody can doubt that, and he did take less money than he would technically have been entitled to.”
As for Lakers fans, who have been frustrated with this season and have been highly critical of the organization, Buss preached continued patience as she feels that the team will turn it around
Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images