Jeanie Buss on not hiring Phil Jackson: Lakers don’t need another voice
Everyone knows the New York Knicks were Phil Jackson’s second choice. Had Jackson been offered the exact same position with the Los Angeles Lakers as the one he accepted with the Knicks, he would have chosen LA. Why wasn’t that offer extended? Lakers president Jeanie Buss, who referred to herself as “the boss,” shed some light on that on Thursday.
Buss has been in charge of the Lakers since her father Dr. Jerry Buss passed away. In a lengthy chat with ESPNLA 710 radio’s “Mason and Ireland” show, she explained her responsibilities with the team.
“In my position, I empower people that are in positions to do their jobs,” Buss said. “[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.”
That’s where the Jackson situation comes into play. Buss, who is Jackson’s fiancee, admitted that she would love to share an office with Phil so they could carpool to work together. The decision to not hire Jackson ultimately came down to her siblings and employees not envisioning a significant role for him.
“I think people need to understand: It isn’t just Phil,” Buss explained. “There is no additional need for anybody to come in. Jimmy and Mitch have a like mind in how they see the game and what they want to accomplish with this team and they have it under control. They don’t need another voice, whether that’s Phil or whoever. It isn’t about Phil; they don’t need another voice, they’ve got it covered. I understand that and I respect that and I’m happy for them.”
The Knicks were looking for a complete basketball operations overhaul. The Lakers, despite their 22-45 record, are happy with what they have going. Buss has a very personal relationship with Jackson, but the decision had only to do with business. The Knicks are simply willing to let Jackson cast a larger shadow over their franchise. Desperation will do that to a team.