The Los Angeles Lakers are a family business. It’s been that way ever since Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team back in the 1980s, an acquisition that was displayed in full in the first episode of the HBO show “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” that aired last night (check out our podcast recapping the episode here). Dr. Buss passed away in 2013, but still, the “Buss” name is still heavily attached to the Lakers franchise, with his daughter Jeanie Buss being the president and controlling owner, son Joey Buss serving as VP of research and development, and his other son Jesse Buss serving as assistant general manager. However, there are also plenty of current examples of “friends” who have turned into “family”, with those individuals being able to have a say in Lakers matters because of their relationship to the Buss family. Examples include Kurt Rambis, Rob Pelinka, and Magic Johnson among others who have direct or indirect ties towards helping Jeanie make decisions for the franchise. We apparently now have another “friend” of Jeanie and the organization to add to this list of Lakers decision-makers, as Bill Oram and Sam Amick of The Athletic reported the following today regarding Phil Jackson:
Sources say Jackson, the Lakers legend and ex-fiancé of Buss, whose presence at Saturday’s win against Golden State was highlighted by the team’s Twitter account, has been in frequent contact with Buss about team matters all season long. The complicated and often uncomfortable dynamics surrounding the Westbrook situation, in particular, are known to have drawn his interest. As unofficial consultants go, they don’t get much more experienced or credible than Jackson.
The Zen Master is in the building 🐐 pic.twitter.com/my55FYCKms
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 6, 2022
This report is interesting for a myriad of reasons, some of which Oram and Amick lay out within their report. You can read those in full in their piece, but to summarize, those reasons include the fact that LeBron James is definitely not a fan of Phil Jackson and that this isn’t the first reported time that Jackson was involved in recent Lakers decisions as he was a strong supporter of Frank Vogel’s hiring.
One aspect that’s interesting to me is… who decided to report this to Oram and Amick and why did they report it at this time? In addition, was there a reason for the timing of Jackson attending a game on Saturday, amidst all of these finger-pointing reports coming out from all sides that have a vested interest in the Lakers? Was it just an innocent visit from The Zen Master, or was he specifically invited by Jeanie or someone else in the organization in an attempt to stir the pot with LeBron even more?
I’m really not sure what the answers are to all of those questions. Either way, it’s interesting that Jackson has had such a prominent voice in the workings of the 2021-22 Lakers. He hasn’t had a formal role with any organization since the Knicks and Jackson mutually parted ways in 2017. Beginning in 2014 and ending that year, Phil Jackson served as president of the team. To put it nicely, his decisions during tenure did not lead to success for the Knicks.
As always, we’ll try and keep you updated with any further developments regarding Jackson’s role with the Lakers, as well as any other new revelations about the s*** show that goes on behind the scenes in Laker land.