When certain NBA owners are unable to attain a coveted player via free agency, they seem to feel the need to lash out or downplay what that player meant to their franchise. Mark Cuban has done this a number of times: he said the Dallas Mavericks were better off by not signing Deron Williams in the summer of 2012, and basically said the same about Dwight Howard after missing out on the center this summer. We all know about the vicious things Dan Gilbert had to say about LeBron James when the forward bolted to the Miami Heat.
Add Jim Buss to the list of owners who feel bitter about the loss of a critical player. In an extended interview with NBA insider Ric Bucher about a variety of topics about the Los Angeles Lakers, Howard’s name came up and here is what Buss had to say about losing the center to the Houston Rockets, from The Hollywood Reporter:
Jim insists he’s just following his father’s blueprint, but the Howard situation suggests he missed a page. Instead of Jim spending time with Howard, the team launched a widely derided media campaign that implored “Stay” on billboards. After Howard bolted, Jim turned on his former star, saying he wasn’t surprised or dismayed. “He was never really a Laker,” says Jim. “He was just passing through.”
Those close to Howard say the Lakers could have persuaded him to stay. Even Jeanie believes that if her father had not been sick, he would have sealed the deal like so many before it. “It’s disappointing that Dwight isn’t here,” she says. “I feel like we failed him.”
First of all, what does it even mean to say that Howard was “never really a Laker”? Was the entire season of him wearing a Lakers uniform a figment of everyone’s imagination? Is there some special personality that one must have in order to be a Laker? A certain time period they must wear the uniform, perhaps? Does it then mean that Jim Buss feels the same way about Steve Nash or anyone else on the roster not named Kobe Bryant or Pau Gasol? It’s a shame that certain owners feel the need to say such unnecessary things about players they once had or ones they wished to have acquired at some point in time. If you were “better off without them” or you believe that they never represented your franchise properly, then why did you go after them so hard? The words spoken and the actions taken are total contradictions, and bad-mouthing players because they didn’t let you have your way is petty and downright bratty.
The above, of course, is all in reference to what Jim Buss had to say. Jeanie Buss’ statement about Howard was much more thoughtful and done with class – something Jim could have shown plenty more of.
Onto other news from around the league:
- Jim Buss also said that the decision to hire Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson was ultimately his father’s decision, from Bucher: Jim nonetheless is credited — some say blamed — with orchestrating events last season that contributed to the team’s poor performance. Head coach Mike Brown was replaced five games into the season with current coach Mike D’Antoni instead of Jackson, who presided over the Lakers’ past five titles. As Dr. Buss lay dying at Cedars-Sinai, D’Antoni and Jackson were approached about the job. Jackson thought he was being given time to mull his interest when he received a call from Kupchak saying D’Antoni had been hired… ”The Lakers went into that week prepared to offer the job to Phil,” says one source. “Dr. Buss may have rubber-stamped [the D'Antoni hiring], but he clearly wasn’t at the helm. If he had been healthy and involved, that never would’ve happened.”… Jim denies that perception is reality. “I have zero problem with Phil, and Phil has zero problem with me,” he says. And while Jim and Kupchak interviewed both D’Antoni and Jackson, Jim says the final decision was made by Dr. Buss. “Mitch and I interviewed Phil together and then reported back to my dad at the hospital for hours upon hours,” he says. “He gave the final hammer; we just enforced it.”