Jim Buss didn’t have too many fans to begin with in Lakers Nation. And that was before his attempt at a palace coup, undertaken with brother Johnny Buss to overthrow sister Jeanie Buss as the head of the Lakers, failed last week.
Like most things Jim has done, it wasn’t well thought out. Jerry Buss meant for daughter Jeanie to run the Lakers organization when he was gone and he set up his trust in such a way that it would be hard for Jim to wrest control away from her.
But after she fired him last month as head of basketball operations, Jim and Johnny tried to regain control by attempting to vote Jeanie out as one of four directors representing the Buss family interests on the Lakers Board of Directors. League rules say the person in charge of the team has to be a director on the team.
Jeanie Buss had her lawyers slap a restraining order on her two brothers, got them to cancel the meeting they had scheduled to vote her off the board and had a trial date scheduled for May to settle the issue once and for all.
Jim will still get the $10 million or so in team profits that he receives each year, but he no longer has a job calling the shots with the Lakers. And I haven’t heard one Laker fan come to his defense.
Jim Buss was a perfect example of a person rising to a level where his incompetence proved fatal.
Try as he might, he was never going to be a good evaluator of basketball talent. Race horses, maybe. Basketball players … ?
For a few years he got lucky with Andrew Bynum. Bynum was the young center Buss drafted with the team’s first round pick in 2005 straight out of high school.
He was a key performer on those Lakers teams, but he couldn’t stay healthy. The two titles the Lakers won in 2009 and 2010 were won by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Bynum was not a major factor in the playoffs either of those seasons because he was coming off knee injuries.
Bynum also was notorious for not staying in shape in the off-season. When the Lakers cast their lot with Dwight Howard after the 2011-12 season, Bynum was traded to Philadelphia as part of the sign-and-trade deal that brought Howard here.
Two years later, Bynum was out of the league, before he turned 30.
And that was Jim Buss’ best move in more than 10 years calling shots for the Lakers.
I’m still not sure what Jim Buss expected his sister to do with him, especially after he went on record in 2014 that if the Lakers weren’t any good in three or four years that he would step down.
Jimbo, the Lakers have the second worst record in the NBA. Again. They have drafted well recently, probably more to Mitch Kupchak’s credit than Jim Buss’.
But Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng will be drawing substantial paychecks from the Lakers three years from now and those decisions are on both Buss and Kupchak, which is why both men are unemployed now.
Can Magic Johnson and new general manager Rob Pelinka turn the Lakers around? I have no idea. But they have to be better than Jim Buss. He can go to the Hollywood Park Casino or wherever he likes to play poker, go out to Santa Anita when the horses are running, he can probably watch the Lakers game from a family suite if he wants.
He just won’t be making the decisions anymore. But the palace coup he tried to stage last week made him look petty. And now he needs to just go away.
PREP PLAYOFFS: The state high school basketball playoffs begin this week with Divisions I through V playing their openers March 8. The open divisions don’t start play until March 10. Ten area boys teams and 12 girls teams qualified.
In the open division, the Westchester boys play Mater Dei while the Fairfax girls play Long Beach Poly.
In boys action, Fairfax played Long Beach Poly and Narbonne played Corona Centennial in Division I.
In Division II, Crenshaw played Santa Monica Crossroads, George Washington Prep played La Jolla Country Day and Dorsey faced Esperanza.
In Division III, Gardena played Villa Park. In Division IV, Carson played San Diego Lincoln and St. Paul played San Bernardino and in Division V New Design Watts played Brawley. Winners advance to the second round March 11.
In girls action, Windward played Narbonne and Serra played El Camino Real in Division I. In Division II, Carson played Orangewood Academy of Garden Grove, South Gate Legacy played Independence of Bakersfield and Eagle Rock played Mater Dei.
In Division III, Venice played Rosary Academy of Fullerton, Leuzinger played San Marcos and Serra played Westchester and in Division IV, Torres of East Los Angeles played Rancho Bernardo.
TELEVISION IMPASSE: Three years into the Dodgers’ television contract with Time Warner (now Spectrum) and most of Los Angeles still can’t watch Dodgers games on television.
Spectrum and the Dodgers announced March 8 that a deal had been made with KTLA Channel 5 to televise 10 Dodgers games during the first month of the season.
That will give Dodgers fans who don’t receive Spectrum (the former Charter) cable service, but I’m not sure what else it is supposed to do. It sure isn’t pushing DirecTV, the largest satellite service, to iron out a deal with Spectrum.
DirecTV wants to provide the Dodgers came only to its subscribers who want to pay for them, which seems like a fair deal. Spectrum wants everyone to be forced to get the games, because Spectrum is paying way too much money for the television contract and is trying to get back as much as is possible.
The Dodgers, meantime, are happily counting all the money they get from the contract.
DirecTV isn’t blameless in this dilemma, either. DirecTV also has been a holdout when it comes to signing on with the Pac 12 Network, depriving many of us from watching most USC and UCLA basketball games this season.
The Pac 12 Network wants DirecTV to show all of its offerings. DirecTV only wants the main channel, none of the regional channels. I understand where both sides are coming from, but all I want to do is watch a game when it’s on. Most of the Pac 12 basketball tournament games are on the Pac 12 Network. Fortunately, Saturday’s championship game is on ESPN. I hope UCLA makes it that far.
At least we won’t have any such problems next week when March Madness starts on CBS, TNT, TBS and Tru. Now that’s a sports fan’s television bonanza, especially the first two days of the tournament.
Start filling out those brackets.