Rosen: Inside the non-hiring of Phil Jackson

Let’s take a last look at the Phil Jackson-Los Angeles Lakers fiasco.

It seems apparent that there are three culprits who prevented Jackson from replacing Mike Brown.

Jimmy Buss has no official title, but his dad (Dr. Jerry Buss) has placed the fortunes of the franchise entirely in his eldest son’s hands. Too bad Jimmy can’t tell a pick-and-roll from a Kaiser roll.  He’s strictly a numbers man, and hired the woefully inept Brown only because of Brown’s impressive winning percentage in Cleveland.

Never mind that Brown was useless in timeouts, made ineffective in-game and between-game adjustments, conducted overly long practices, was ridiculed by his players, let LeBron James walk all over him in their Cleveland days and was considered a joke by his peers. Hey, but his numbers were good!

Lakers Jim Buss

Jim Buss, son of Lakers owner Jerry Buss

There were several reasons why Buss was more than reluctant to rehire Jackson, one of these being the intense rivalry among his siblings. With Jackson in the command seat, Jeanie Buss knew more about the inner workings of the team than did Jimmy – an intolerable situation for big bro.

Also, Jimmy subscribed to Jerry Krause’s theory that championships are won by organizations, including front offices.  So when Phil left, all of his assistants and scouts were fired. According to Jimmy, “The average NBA fan knows as much as any NBA scout” – a belief that enabled him to hire his favorite bartender buddy as a scout.

Mitch Kupchak is GM of the Lakers, a position that usually includes responsibility for making any and all player-personnel decisions.  But because of Jackson’s phenomenal successes, every free agent signing, every potential trade, and every D-league demotion required his coach’s approval.

No surprise that Kupchak resented the diminishing of his authority and also wanted Jackson out.

Warren Legarie is the agent for both Brown and Mike D’Antoni.  He undoubtedly convinced Buss and Kupchak that in canning Brown, the Lakers owed him one. Could Legarie also have been instrumental in drawing up the list of negatives associated with Jackson?

So, if they really didn’t want to hire him, why then did Kupchak and Buss meet with Jackson?  Only because the local media and Lakers fans raised such a tumult.

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  3. Matt says

    Isn’t Phil dating his sister? Jim probably has to hear his sisters moan through the wall at night.

    Plus whatever over the table comments like “I banged your sister” and stuff.

    This is what happens when you pass on businesses on families

  4. james katt says

    Charley,
    How would you suggest to fix the Lakers?
    They have a lot of talent but they aren’t being utilized correctly.
    How would you move and change things around?

  5. WammyGiveaway says

    Another reason why Phil Jackson was shafted all has to do with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers, former laughingstock of the NBA turned contenders overnight after the Laker’s original trade of Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets was vetoed by commissioner and acting owner David Stern. The All Star point guard, coupled with franchise cornerstones Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, helped transform little step brother into Lob City, which is just like Showtime, but younger and even better. He was embarrassed by the league’s handling of the vetoed trade, and ultimately humiliated when the Clippers gave the Lakers their worst start (0-3) in franchise history since 1979. Jim Buss was determined to make his father proud by carrying on his legacy, but he didn’t just want to win the title with dominance – he wanted revenge on the team who not only stole Chris Paul and Showtime away from the Lakers, but their future as well.

    Mike D’Antoni is the same coach who eliminated the Clippers from the 2005-06 NBA Playoffs. He hopes that the image of D’Antoni on the sidelines will bring fear into the hearts and souls of Clipper faithful. Though Elton Brand, Sam Cassell and the other Clippers of that team have moved on or retired, Donald Sterling is still running the franchise and has not forgotten.

    But the ultimate twist to this tale of revenge is the following: Dr. Jerry Buss and Donald Sterling are friends. Sterling helped chipped in a few millions to Dr. Buss in purchasing the Lakers franchise in 1979, and in turn Dr. Buss introduced Sterling to the NBA, who would then purchase the Clippers a year after. Donald would do anything for his best friend, even if it meant for his Clippers to lose on purpose to give the Lakers a fighting chance at a title. That was all in the past.

    Jim Buss’s personal disdain for the Clippers could be what motivated him to select Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson. And because of that, the possibility of the Zenmaster coaching the Clippers may not be as farfetched as some had originally thought.

  6. says

    As a Lakers’ fan and a Jackson fan, it was sad to see and I understand your reasons for writing about it. However as a long time fan of your writing, I am looking forward to your game and player breakdowns much more than off court drama.

  7. Kevin Fries says

    Welcome, Charley! I really missed your columns when you moved on to another place and am glad I took the effort to find your byline. Glad to see you’re still writing and I always enjoy your opinions and reporting.

  8. A.J. says

    If that’s Rosen’s opinion, then why doesn’t he also do a little investigative journalism and “out” the 119 sportswriters and broadcasters that voted in 2009 for NBA Coach of the Year. He slammed Brown and Jim Buss, so how about giving it to his butt-head fraternity brothers that caused Buss to hire Brown in the first place. I’ll bet a lot of those very same homers, shills and hypocrites are guys that subsequently attacked both Brown and Buss.

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