The Future of the L.A. Lakers is in the Hands of a Buss-ter
posted Mar 04 2013, 02:08PM
posted in NBA, Analysis

Will Jim Buss Bury the Treasure his Late Father Discovered?

It has been over a week since the passing of the great Dr. Jerry Buss, shock and grief is in the heart of most of the Laker faithful, but once those feelings cease the feeling of fear and concern will eventually supplant the sadness in the hearts and minds of all L.A. Laker fans. This is in large part due to one reason: Jim Buss is now officially in full and complete control of Hollywood’s darling and most prized franchise, the Los Angeles Lakers.

The incompetence illustrated by Jim Buss over the past few seasons while calling the shots for the L.A. Lakers, is no longer going to be unnoticed by the Laker faithful. Buss is quickly turning one of the most renowned and envied organizations in sports to the laughing stock around league circles. In the past eighteen months, Jim Buss has turned the Laker organization upside down.

Buss fired more than a dozen tenured Laker employees before the lockout last season, in order to “cut costs.” The same organization who recently signed a TV deal for an estimated $3 billion needs to cut costs?

Of the employees who were laid off, one of the more prominent was assistant GM Ronnie Lester, as well as, nearly all of the members of the Lakers scouting department. What is more startling is who Buss found to man his new and improved scouting department.

Buss replaced the team’s scouting department with his horseracing, bartending buddy, Charles “Chaz” Osborne, who had no basketball pedigree prior to being hired. His next addition was his younger brother, Jesse Buss, who was arrested on alcohol related charges just a few months prior to being appointed as a team scout.

Unfortunately, these realignments seem to be in line with Buss’s brilliant player personnel philosophy. 

Jim Buss believes “evaluating basketball talent is not too difficult.” He says, “if you grabbed 10 fans out of a bar and asked them to rate prospects, their opinions would be pretty much identical to those of the pro scouts."

This is the man calling the shots for one of the most storied franchises in professional sports?

If his scouting and player personnel strategies aren’t dubious enough, Buss’s communication skills and lack of professionalism may even be more alarming.

Jimmy deems it acceptable for a professional basketball organization to operate in a less than professional fashion. The new look L.A. Lakers seem to fire individuals without having the decency or courtesy of informing long time employees of their fate, as explained by Lester “it's just sad that the organization is letting people go without communicating with these people." Lester spent 10 seasons as the team’s assistant GM after working his way up the L.A. Laker hierarchy where he began as a regional scout in 1987.

Another former employee, Marco Nunez, an assistant athletic trainer, saw the writings on the wall during the lockout. “After I left, I sort of needed a guarantee that we would come back," Nunez said. "Because it was left open, I had to take that as a 'no.'" Nunez is now a member of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks staff.

Jim Buss’s classless behavior has even spilled over and been on display during every coaching change under his brief regime. When the team was in search of a successor to Phil Jackson after he decided to step away after the 2011 NBA season, Brian Shaw was the logical candidate to take over coaching duties. Shaw was not only familiar with the heavily successful triangle offense, but is also considered one of the most qualified assistant coaches in the NBA; however, Jim Buss apparently had other plans.

Not only did he not formally meet or speak with Shaw in person, he did not even pick up the phone to make Shaw aware he was not being hired for the job. Shaw found out when the rest of the country found out, when he saw it on TV. Unfortunately, this coaching misstep was not the only time Jimmy conducted his coaching search in such a deplorable manner.

The handling of coaching legend, Phil Jackson, who also happens to be Jim’s soon to be brother-in-law, was as appalling and dishonorable as any of his previous actions since taking over for his father.

After a disastrous 1-4 start to the 2012-2013 campaign, Buss had realized his hiring of the underwhelming Mike Brown was a mistake, and a drastic change needed to be made.

So, who better to come in and coach a team loaded with talent than a man with 11 world champions to his name, 5 of which came while coaching the L.A. Lakers? A man revered for being able to manage egos and talent better than any coach in the history of professional sports?

Mike D’Antoni is not the name that comes to mind.

After his sit down with Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak, Jackson was under the impression the team’s coaching vacancy was “his job to turn down.” So, as he was mulling the decision, he began gauging the interest of individuals he deemed qualified to round out his coaching staff as he prepared to rejoin the team. At the time this was almost a forgone conclusion; whoever, Buss had other plans for “his” team.

The organization and Buss, in particular, tried to justify the hiring of D’Antoni by claiming he was the best man for the job. So, a coach whose career win percentage is a shade over .500 in the regular season and a shade under .500 in the playoffs is the “best coach” to lead this L.A. Laker team to a championship? Does that really seem like a logical explanation as to why Mike D’Antoni is the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers over 11 time world champion Phil Jackson?

Jim Buss does not like Phil Jackson. It is that simple. His disdain for Jackson and the handling of the L.A. Lakers recent coaching vacancy has even caused a rift between Buss and his sister, Jeanie, Jackson’s fiancée.

This conflict is a clear indication that the decision to hire D’Antoni was not a basketball related move, but rather a personal vendetta Jim Buss has against Jackson.

As time passes, more and more questions about the ethical and professional integrity of Little Buss will be the topic of discussion amongst the Laker faithful and the national media.

I fear this may be the end of the L.A. Lakers as the darling of the NBA, as I have come to known them, and I watch in horror as the incompetent oldest son of Dr. Jerry Buss destroys the years of masterful decision making and managing that was utilized to bring the L.A. Lakers to the forefront of the professional sports scene.      

Kayvon Padidar
I am 24 years old and a military veteran. I recently graduated from The Ohio State University and was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio. I am a sports...





Recent IBN Stories