Comment - I don't know about you guys, but Jim Buss makes me VERY nervous!!! Soccer and Race Horses.... ARGH!!!!
Meet the new Buss
Jim is quietly making his opinions known when it comes to the Lakers.
By Steve Springer, Times Staff Writer
May 13, 2007
Kobe Bryant looks at the dearth of talent surrounding him on the Lakers roster and seethes with frustration. General Manager Mitch Kupchak
, seeing the barriers facing him in terms of the salary cap and trade possibilities, seeks to publicly lower expectations. Coach Phil Jackson
, surveying the situation, puts off contract-extension talks.
Bleak picture for a storied franchise?
Not if you talk to the new kid on the block, Jim Buss
OK, so at 47, he's not a kid. And he's hardly new, having spent nine seasons in the Lakers' front office, learning the family business.
He may not yet have broken into the public consciousness, but, be assured, the training wheels have come off. Designated by his father, Jerry
, as the future head of the basketball side of the operation, Jim is making his presence felt, voicing his opinion in the councils of power. And that opinion, according to those around him inside and out of the organization, is that the sky is not falling on Laker land.
Just the opposite. Jim is optimistic, if not realistic. And long-term, it is his opinion that will count most.
It is his sister, Jeanie
, who is the public face of the next generation of Busses. She's the one dating the head coach, running the business end, creatively planning team ceremonies and prominently seated behind the courtside celebrities.
Jim prefers a more low-profile role, usually sitting in his father's box in the upper level behind the baseline, or chatting amiably in the media room.
He is mentioned after Kupchak in the Lakers' media guide, but don't be fooled by that. Jim is not in training to be the next GM. Kupchak will report to Jim whenever Jerry, 74, chooses to relinquish control.
After running the Lazers soccer team for his father, Jim briefly left the organization to train racehorses because, he told the The Times in 2002, "I was tired of the feeling of taking a paycheck from Dad."
He's ready now to be the one issuing the paychecks. So what kind of operation can we expect under Jim? There are no direct answers because he declined to comment for this column.
But he gave some clues this week while a guest on 570 AM, the Lakers' flagship station, telling the audience:
• Bryant needs to be aware that any trade involving him would require the other team to surrender its best player. For example, trading Bryant to Cleveland would cost the Cavaliers LeBron James
. Any trade, Buss said, would markedly weaken Bryant's new team, giving him no greater guarantee of a championship than he has with the Lakers.
In other words, Kobe, don't think leaving L.A. is the panacea for your frustration.
• Although he certainly respects Jackson, his accomplishments and his right to run his team as he sees fit, Buss said he doesn't like Jackson's tendency to criticize his players in the media. That's not my style, said Jim.
Best player in the game and a Hall of Fame coach. Jim Buss is clearly not intimidated by either of them.
No silent partner here. He has his own ideas and, at some point, he will implement them when he inherits the family jewel.
Wait a minute: Where was Jim when the Lakers dealt Shaquille O'Neal
, then still one of the best players in the league, to the Miami Heat and didn't get Dwyane Wade
, Miami's best player, in return?