Jeanie Buss: I was ‘Stunned’ the Lakers Chose D’Antoni over Phil Jackson
This is part of the issue with the Lakers right now. Why are they still talking about the past? They had the same issue the first few weeks after Dwight Howard decided to take his talents to Houston. Everyone came out with statements and comments about it, but the best course of action for the franchise at that point was to cut their losses and move on. They still don’t seem to have grasped that, as the owners are the ones still refusing to move on.
Jeanie Buss is the latest to make headlines talking about last season. For some reason, she’s still talking about her brother Jim choosing Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson as the new head coach. As if for a team struggling to find its new direction, that’s exactly what they need.
Per LA Times:
[That Friday afternoon] My brother walked into my private office a little while later and got right to the point.
“I feel really bad that I made this mistake in hiring Mike Brown,” he said. “I’ve cost the family money. But I had to let him go and we are going to have to continue to pay that contract. What I want to know from you is, do you think Phil and I could work together?”
My brother really caught me off guard with that question.
“I have no idea if Phil is even interested in coming back,” I said. “If you want to discuss it, Jim, it has to be between you and him. I can’t be in the middle. The only way it’s going to work is if I’m not involved.” . . .
My brother’s response was to repeat his initial question: “Do you think Phil and I can work together?”
“Jim, just look at your past success,” I replied. “Andrew Bynum is a perfect example. You brought Phil a piece of raw talent and Phil helped develop him into what he became. He was one of the top two centers in the league. Of course you and Phil can work together.”
She then went on to recall that fateful night I’m sure all of us have heard about by this point.
That Sunday night, just before he started preparing dinner, Phil put on his Lakers Hawaiian shirt, the one he had often worn during the season. It was clear to me he was getting mentally ready to return to his old job.
Nothing was for sure, but things were moving in that direction.
After we went to bed, the house phone rang at 11:30. I heard Phil pick it up and say, “Okay, alright. Okay.”
When he hung up, I asked him what that was about, and he said, “Mitch called to tell me they’ve hired D’Antoni. He said that they feel given the personnel they have that D’Antoni is a better fit. He said they know they are going to take a bit of a PR hit, but he thinks it will blow over in a month.”
“He said it will blow over in a month?” I repeated in disbelief.
I was still trying to wake up.
I was stunned. I said to Phil, “They came to you. You were not looking for the job. I cannot believe this.”
Buss was very open about her feelings regarding the hire, letting it known that she felt betrayed by the decision.
Looking back on it, anybody with any type of basketball acumen knew it made little to no sense. Sure the Lakers had former 2-time MVP Steve Nash running point guard, a position Nash ran for D’Antoni in Phoenix that led to the best season’s of his career .
But Nash was 39. The future was Dwight Howard. And with Phil’s history of helping big men excel in his triangle offense (see Andrew Bynum, Shaquille O’Neal), it was thought to be an easy decision.
Seems some folks in LA, still aren’t over it.