Jeanie Buss, the Lakers head of business operations, has re-released her memoir “Laker Girl,” with a new chapter. In the new chapter, Jeanie describes the situation within the Lakers organization following the firing of Mike Brown, which ultimately led to the hiring of head coach Mike D’Antoni.
The new chapter doesn’t just discuss how the Lakers contacted Phil Jackson, but decided to go with D’Antoni, but how it “practically destroyed” Jeanie and how she felt that she had been played by her brother Jim.
The excerpt begins with Jim telling Jeanie that they have decided to fire Brown, and that he wanted to open up the lines of communication with his sister. He would ask whether or not he thought that he and Jackson could work together, with Jeanie citing the example of how they turned Andrew Bynum into one of the best centers in the league.
Jeanie would give Jim Jackson’s phone number, and a meeting was set up between Jim, Jackson, and general manager Mitch Kupchak on a Saturday night. Jackson left the meeting feeling good about everything, but wanted to talk to his doctors about coaching again. Kupchak and Jim told Jackson that they’d continue to talk to other candidates — Mike Dunleavy and D’Antoni — and would meet with Jackson again the following Monday.
That Sunday, Jeanie said that Jackson was wearing a Lakers Hawaiian shirt and was mentally preparing himself for the job, but received a phone call from Kupchak saying that they’ve decided to go with D’Antoni — and the media was filled with rumors the following morning.
By the next day, stories began coming out in the media that Phil wanted part ownership of the team, had demanded a ridiculous salary, and had insisted on not traveling with the team on some of our road trips.
None of that was true. . . .
Kupchak felt that there would be a PR hit, but felt that everything would “blow over in a month.” Both Jackson and Jeanie were stunned by these developments. Jeanie spent the next part of the excerpt trying to figure out why her brother would reach out to Jackson, who had been in retirement, not looking for a job, would spurn Jackson for D’Antoni. Two days after the news, Jeanie was at the Lakers gym, and began “crying hysterically” about the whole ordeal, and had to be removed, she was torn by the whole situation.
The sequence of events — Phil almost coming back and then being told someone else was better for the job — practically destroyed me. It almost took away my passion for this job and this game. It felt like I had been stabbed in the back. It was a betrayal. I was devastated.
I felt that I got played. Why did they have to do that? Why did Jim pull Phil back into the mix if he wasn’t sincere about it? . . .
Jeanie ended the excerpt by saying that the lines of communication between her and Jim still haven’t completely opened as they don’t talk much, and feels that it can work that way as they both run different parts of the organization.
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