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Jeanie Buss on not hiring Phil Jackson: Lakers don’t need another voice

Jeanie Buss Phil Jackson selfie

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.

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Jeanie Buss and Phil Jackson take adorable selfie

Jeanie Buss Phil Jackson selfie

Would you look at 52-year-old Jeanie Buss and 68-year-old Phil Jackson taking an adorable selfie like a couple of cute teenagers in love. Jeanie posted that photo of her and her fiancee to her Twitter page on Friday (yes, Phil finally gave her an engagement ring after over 12 years of dating).

Did you know that “selfie” was announced this week as the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year? If Buss and Phil are doing it, then you know the practice has truly become ubiquitous. It’s like seeing your favorite grandpa take a selfie.

Jeanie Buss: Jerry could have convinced Dwight Howard to stay

Jerry BussLos 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.

Jeanie and Jim Buss reportedly have not spoken since Phil Jackson fiasco

jeanie bussIf you thought the only issues the Lakers were having were on the court, think again. According to a report from the Orange County Register, Lakers executives (and siblings) Jeanie and Jim Buss have not spoken since the team hired Mike D’Antoni instead of Phil Jackson to replace Mike Brown in November.

Jeanie is engaged to Jackson and has been with him for over 12 years. She runs the business operations for the Lakers while brother Jim runs the basketball operations.

Jim and GM Mitch Kupchak were in negotiations with Jackson to make him the team’s head coach (for the third time) before deciding to hire D’Antoni instead. Jackson was bothered by the decision because he felt like the team had given him time to mull over the offer, and he reportedly was planning to accept the gig.

The OC Register’s Kevin Ding places the nugget of information into a larger context; he wonders how the relationship between the two will impact the Lakers’ ownership. Jerry Buss, who has owned the team since 1979, is turning 79 and reportedly has left his share of the team (66 percent) to his six children. If the two siblings who have the most active roles with the team are unable to agree on the direction of the franchise, Ding speculates that they could eventually sell the team.

Chest bump to Pro Basketball Talk

Phil Jackson finally gives Jeanie Buss engagement ring (Picture)

jeanie-buss-ring

It looks like Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss are finally engaged after over 12 years of dating.

Buss, who is the Vice President of Business Operations for the Lakers, tweeted a photo Thursday of the large diamond ring Jackson gave her.

“Twitter family – Phil finally gave me that ring I wanted!” she tweeted.

Jackson, 67, and Buss, 51, began dating shortly after Phil became head coach of the Lakers in 1999 (a Los Angeles Daily News article dated Nov. 14, 2000 identifies Buss as Jackson’s girlfriend). The couple remained together throughout Jackson’s two head coaching stints with the team.

Jackson frequently would call Buss his “companion” when asked about their relationship. After being divorced twice, there were no signs he planned to marry again. It looks like he has finally changed his mind.

What adds intrigue to the apparent engagement is that Jackson’s proposal comes shortly after the Lakers chose to hire Mike D’Antoni instead of him as their head coach two months ago. Whatever feelings Jackson held toward the organization clearly did not stop him from proposing. Congratulations to the two.

Photo credit: Twitter/Jeanie Buss

Jeanie Buss can’t watch Lakers games on TV

The Los Angeles Lakers’ new TV deal will prevent even Lakers executive Jeanie Buss from watching the team’s games on TV.

The Lakers signed a 20-year, $3 billion deal with Time Warner Cable in February 2011. Time Warner created two new regional sports channels — Time Warner SportsNet, and the Spanish language Deportes — to carry games for which they’ve purchased broadcasting rights.

SportsNet and Deportes went live on Monday, but they are only available for customers who have Time Warner Cable. Only around a third of Southern California residents have Time Warner Cable (many others have DirecTV, Dish Network, or Cox), and Buss, the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations, is one of the many area residents who don’t have Time Warner.

Buss attends the team’s home games, but she says she plans to watch road games at Phil Jackson’s place until a deal is reached between Time Warner and her cable provider.

“Certainly we hope we’ll be able to reach every single person living in Los Angeles and Southern California,” Buss said at a recent Time Warner Cable SportsNet event, per the Los Angeles Times. “I’m usually at the game. But when they’re on the road, I’m usually hanging out with Phil since he’s home. I don’t see that issue coming up for myself.”

Though missing Lakers games on TV won’t be a problem for Buss, it will be for thousands of Lakers fans.

The conflict centers around Time Warner Cable’s $3.95/subscriber fee they’re charging networks to carry the channels. Most providers consider that to be an exorbitant charge they refuse to pay. Time Warner Cable feels they need to charge such a high amount to see a return on their $3 billion investment.

Until a deal is reached, many Lakers fans won’t be able to watch their team.

Jeanie Buss thinks Phil Jackson will coach again, says he has his energy back

Phil Jackson continues to be the hot name brought up for the Knicks’ vacant coaching position, however, we still don’t have a definite answer as to whether Jackson has any desire to come back to coaching. But, for what it’s worth, his own girlfriend believes the legendary coach could eventually be returning to the sidelines.

Jeanie Buss was a guest Friday on the Mason and Ireland show on 710 ESPN in L.A. and said that Jackson is nearly fully recovered from a recent knee surgery that corrected discomfort he had while he was coaching the Lakers and will probably coach again one day in some capacity.

“He’s got his energy back,” Buss said, per I am a GM.  “As a matter of fact, I overheard him making plans to play tennis when he’s back in Montana with one of his friends. He hasn’t played tennis, I don’t think, in eight years. The knee replacement really is one of those operations that has such a high success rate. It gets people back to riding their bikes, or playing golf, or playing tennis. It really is a miracle. It’s one of those things that because of Phil’s schedule he wasn’t able to take the time to get the surgery and do the rehab. Now he’s done it, and I do think he has his energy back. Now he’s going to spend his time? I don’t know.”

The Knicks reportedly are continuing to be aggressive in their pursuit of Jackson. It’s still unclear whether Jackson would actually want to coach the Knicks. But I can think of two teams in L.A. who, depending on how things shake out this weekend, Phil might be interested in.

Photo credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE