While Laker fans are undoubtedly upset over the Phil Jackson making his way to the New York Knicks, it is important to remember that the situation is not on the shoulders of one particular member of the Buss family.
It is easy for everyone to point the finger at Jim Buss, the Executive Vice President of the Lakers as well as the main man running the basketball operations of the team, mainly citing the publicized ‘bad relationship’ between him and Jackson over the years.
In his article “No Phil Jackson shows Kobe Bryant doesn’t run Lakers”, Sam Amick of USA Today Sports, shed some light on the Lakers-Jackson situation including a bombshell:
This will all make for another great Lakers book someday, and maybe then we’ll find out if all the chatter is true that Jerry made Jim swear in his final days that Jackson would never return after he was gone… It would shock no one, then, if it turned out that the senior Buss’ aversion to Jackson’s return was extended out of respect to their father from there.
Could Dr. Jerry Buss have been the driving force behind Jackson not returning to the Lakers? If true, does that change the perception of Jim Buss amongst fans who have no issue blaming him for the team’s troubles?
Friday afternoon on ESPN AM 710 in Los Angeles, Ramona Shelburne talked more in-depth about the dynamic surrounding Jackson not coming back to the Lakers, saying it was not only one of Buss children who had reservations about Jackson joining the franchise, but multiple Buss children that were uncertain about creating a role for the legendary coach.
According to Shelburne, the Buss children had ongoing discussions since December regarding the Jackson situation but with multiple members of the family against the change, it never reached a vote. Additionally she mentioned it was a case of the family wanting to continue with the franchise structure their father left for them, instead of changing it a little over a year after his death.
In the end, was this simply a situation of children carrying out what their late father wanted? While nothing has been confirmed directly (and it may never be), it is easy to understand how the family would go down this road in order to honor their father and his wishes.
Now with Jackson out of the picture, the Buss family can continue on the path laid out for them without the pressure of the fans calling for another figure head to take control of the purple and gold.
It is time for the Buss children to show what they can do.