Jim Buss, who runs the basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, said he would step down from his post if the Lakers are not competitive in three to four years.
The Lakers finished with the worst record since the franchise moved to Los Angeles this year, and stories about the tensions in the front office between Jim and his sister Jeanie Buss, particularly over Jeanie’s fiance Phil Jackson, have spilled over into the press. Many in the Lakers organization and those close to the late Dr. Buss like Earvin Magic Johnson, whom Buss considered a son, believe Jeanie should be the person in charge of running the basketball operations.
Though Jeanie is the “governor” of the team and nominally has the highest position, Jim Buss retained control of basketball operations after the death of their father in 2013.
So Jeanie Buss posed an elementary question to her siblings: What was going on with the Lakers?
Her older brother Jim Buss, 54, in charge of the Lakers’ basketball operations, spoke up in the boardroom of the team’s El Segundo training facility and pledged to resign in a few years if the suddenly dark fortunes of the franchise weren’t reversed.
“I was laying myself on the line by saying, if this doesn’t work in three to four years, if we’re not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed,” he told The Times about the meeting. “I don’t know if you can fire yourself if you own the team … but what I would say is I’d walk away and you guys figure out who’s going to run basketball operations because I obviously couldn’t do the job.
Jim Buss reportedly also said, “there’s no question in my mind we will accomplish success. I’m not worried about putting myself on the line”:
It was an emotional meeting, and the siblings — including Johnny, Janie, Joey and Jesse — agreed that Jim deserved more time on the job.
Dr. Buss, who transformed the Lakers, the city, and the league with the “Showtime” brand of basketball — with “Laker girls” and all — “left his six children — each with an equal vote — in charge of a family trust, with a 66% ownership stake in the team.”
The Lakers face an offseason in which they will have to make their top draft pick count for the first time, perhaps, since they traded Vlade Divac for Kobe Bryant’s draft rights nearly two decades ago. Kobe Bryant will have to show he is healthy from two devastating injuries and the team will have to decide what they will do with Pau Gasol and which players they will court in free agency.
In the meantime, the Clippers have emerged as the best team in town while the Lakers try to bring back “Showtime,” which Jim Buss has given himself three years to do.