Jeanie Buss: Lakers' Hiring of Mike D'Antoni 'Practically Destroyed Me'
That's how Jeanie Buss described the Lakers hiring Mike D'Antoni early last season in her upcoming memoir "Laker Girl" written with former L.A. Times sportswriter Steve Springer. An excerpt was published by the L.A. Times today.
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.
Those days were some of the most perplexing I've seen in sports in Los Angeles. Who fires a coach five games into an 82-game season? Who hires a replacement coach who is unable to coach because he just had major knee surgery?
There were tons of rumors flying around at the time that Phil Jackson wanted to own part of the team, that Jim Buss' jealousy over Jackson's success all but guaranteed the outcome, that the now-deceased patriarch Jerry Buss wanted to relive the Showtime glory.
But now we get our first peek behind the curtain with one person's view of this debacle. Jeanie made it clear she wanted no involvement with the process aside from passing Jackson's phone number to her brother Jim.
She confirmed there was a meeting between Jackson and Jim along with general manager Mitch Kupchak at Jackson's house. She confirmed that although no offer or promises were given to Jackson, he was mentally preparing himself for returning.
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? ... Phil wasn't looking for the job, and then he wasted 36 hours of his life preparing for it when they were never in a million years going to hire him anyway.
How do you do that to your sister? How do you do that to Phil Jackson?
I hope the flirtation with Phil wasn't just a PR stunt. I still can't get my head around the whole story.
"The decision came down to Dad, Mitch, and I all agreeing," Jim claims, "that D'Antoni was a better fit for this group of personnel."
Then word came out a couple of weeks ago that Jeanie and Jackson are going to produce a show for Showtime about a family that owns a basketball team.
This is going to be a fun season for the Lakers.