Jeanie Buss: Jerry could have convinced Dwight Howard to stay
Los Angeles Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss thinks the recruitment process of Dwight Howard would have gone differently, and likely better for the team, had her late father still been around.
Dr. Jerry Buss bought the Lakers in 1979 and the team won 10 championships under his leadership. The legendary owner died of kidney failure in February at age 80, and he put the team in the hands of his children while his health was declining. Had he still been around and an active part of the Lakers, Jeanie thinks he could have helped convince Dwight to stay.
“They would have probably had a better relationship if my dad wasn’t sick,” Jeanie Buss told ESPNLA 710’s Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson on Thursday (audio here). “When it came time to try to convince Dwight to stay, we lost the best closer in the business in Dr. Buss.”
Jeanie acknowledged that the team putting up the “Stay D12” billboards around the city might not have been the right move.
“Putting up the billboard maybe wasn’t the right thing. But we have to learn how to do things differently because Dr. Buss isn’t here. I know there was a lot of ‘hey that’s not the Laker way.’ But the Laker way isn’t the same, because Dr. Buss isn’t here.”
Jeanie said she is very disappointed that Howard left; not only did she develop a personal relationship with him, but she considers him to be a great talent. Jeanie also said she did not agree with Howard’s decision.
Jeanie did not attend the team’s meeting with Howard during free agency. She said he knew how she felt about him and that her being there would have been redundant since her brother was already part of the meeting as a representation of the team’s ownership.
Contrary to the January report that said Jeanie and brother Jim, who runs the personnel side of the team, were not getting along, Jeanie said she has a great relationship with all of her siblings.
She is probably right saying that her dad would have given the team a better shot at retaining Howard. Some of the decisions made by the franchise’s leadership since Jim Buss took over the team have been very questionable, and Dwight likely recognized that. Look no further than the decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson as one of the best examples of the mistakes.