Several weeks later, the story came out that Dr. Buss, not Jimmy, had made the decision to go with D’Antoni. This seemed unlikely to me given the state of Jerry’s health — not to mention, Jimmy’s long history of impetuous decision-making — but it was impossible to verify that story one way or the other. In the end, it didn’t matter that much anyway. I was ready to move on.
It wasn’t until Dr. Buss died that I realized that how many people were dependent upon him. The list included not just his six children, but also his former partners, his devoted personal staff and the whole Lakers organization. Jerry was a warm-hearted, larger-than-life guy who’d had a hardscrabble childhood growing up in Wyoming. He never forgot how much the kindness of others had allowed him to climb his way out of poverty and achieve success.
After the funeral, however, Jimmy and Johnny were surprised to learn that Dr. Buss had named Jeanie as the Lakers’ voting member on the NBA’s board of governors. That decision essentially gave Jeanie final responsibility for the Lakers franchise.
After the playoffs, Mitch Kupchak came over to my house to discuss the team’s strategy for luring Dwight Howard, or D12, as he had come to be known, to stay with the Lakers...