Jimmy Kimmel (DR) / NBA (DR)
Despite the efforts of its leaders to make it as secure as possible, the NBA sometimes remains the scene of heavy scenes, during which weapons can be drawn. One of them, for example, took place at the Lakers not so long ago.
Back at the top of the food ladder just two years ago, the Lakers haven’t really had time to get used to this position again. Following their coronation in the Orlando bubble, LeBron James and his teammates quickly relapsed, going so far as not to take part in the playoffs last year. A decline which is reminiscent of that experienced during the previous decade.
The ultra-tense ego war that reigned at the Lakers
Before winning the 18th league title in their history, the Lakers went through six years of trouble, during which they were unable to post a positive balance sheet. At the same time, the general staff of the franchise remained divided between its current boss, Jeanie Buss, and in particular her brother Jim, at the time executive vice-president. A dark period to which Jeanie recently returned as part of the show Legacy :
I said to Jim, “If we don’t go back to the playoffs, then you know I’ll be able to make a strong call,” and he said, “Oh, sure.” He even added, “If we don’t go back to the playoffs within three years, then I will retire. I will fire myself. So we shook hands with my brothers as witnesses.
Unfortunately for the Angelinos, this deal didn’t lead to improved results. Quite the contrary.
The years of hardship indeed continued, while the bad sporting choices on the part of Jim accumulated. So much so that Jeanie admits to having become suspicious of him:
Looking back at the decisions Jimmy may have made, I wonder if he made them to undermine the franchise and my authority as leader of the team, or if he just wasn’t making the right choices.
In the end, the big boss of Purple & Gold did not even wait for the end of the three-year period to fire her brother. A strong decision which was obviously not gladly accepted by the person concerned:
My brother Jimmy surrounded himself with lawyers. I wouldn’t say this meeting was hostile, but they got there and put a loaded gun on the table.
Also interviewed as part of the docu-series, Jim Buss was logically asked to justify himself on this tense episode. And his explanations clearly leave something to be desired:
It was just to make sure things would be done fairly and equitably, nothing more. We called in lawyers to be able to understand what my father’s will (Jerry Buss, former Lakers manager, editor’s note) said. According to our lawyers, the best thing to do was to put other people in charge of the team.
Fortunately, this astonishing scene did not turn tragic, and preceded the new cycle initiated by the Lakers in recent years. A cycle carried out without Jim Buss, whose practices will definitely not remain in the legend of the franchise!