Report: Lakers staffers “doubt” team will change culture of hiring former Lakers

Dec 18, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Lakers team executives Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jeannie Buss and Rob Pelinka pose with Kobe Bryant during a halftime ceremony retiring Bryant’s uniform numbers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

One of many criticisms of the Los Angeles Lakers organization for some time has been its hiring processes. Too often, the franchise opts to hire a former Laker or someone connected to the organization rather than holding a prolonged process to hire the right person for the job.

That was true when they hired Magic Johnson, arguably the greatest Laker player of all time, to be the president of basketball operations. It was also true when they hired Rob Pelinka, agent to arguably the greatest Laker player of all time in Kobe Bryant, to be the general manager.

Now with both of those hires panning out horribly in just a few years on the job, it doesn’t appear as though the organization and owner Jeanie Buss, in particular, are prepared to change that culture.

At least, not in the eyes of their employees.

Following via ESPN’s Baxter Holmes:

Rival executives have defined this tendency as more of a weakness than a strength, specifically with respect to Pelinka and Johnson, noting that they were principally chosen not for their experience or qualifications but for their connection to Buss and the Lakers.


Multiple team staffers, as well as others close to the organization, cast doubt on the possibility of the team changing its pattern of “Lakers family” hirings or on overhauling the culture itself. As one source close to the coaching staff said of Buss, “She has accepted that this is who they are.”

The optimist will point to Frank Vogel being chosen as the head coach of the team, albeit after another former Laker declined the team’s offer. Vogel has no ties to the Lakers or Los Angeles and his introductory press conference made him come off as a producer of stability for an organization desperately in need of it.

But even in that process, former Lakers like Kurt Rambis and Phil Jackson reportedly had major influence in the decision to hire Vogel. Buss’ best friend, Linda Rambis, and a longtime Lakers executive whose role does not include basketball operations (Tim Harris) were involved in interviews.

What is almost comical about this situation is that Holmes reports that Jeanie’s brothers, Joey and Jesse, who hold major roles in the basketball operations side, are the ones telling her about the dysfunction in the franchise. And yet, she continues to elevate the “Lakers family” over her own to the point of no return.

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