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Did Jeanie Buss inherit the Lakers?

Jeanie Buss did inherit the Lakers as part of a trust between the Buss siblings. However, Jeanie is the governor of the Lakers and has sole and ultimate control of the Lakers. We take a look at how Jeanie came to be the sole owner of the Lakers, as following Dr Buss’s death there was a lot of confusion between the siblings. We therefore look at the events that transpired.

Jerry Buss Will

Jeanie Buss was Vice President of basketball operations and handled a business side of the Lakers. Her brother Jim Buss was vice president of player personnel and handled the basketball decisions. Dr Jerry Buss was the governor and owner of the Lakers. On the 18th February 2013, Dr. Jerry Buss passed away.

The Buss siblings had a meeting the week after Dr Jerry Buss death, to discuss how the Lakers would work going forward. All the big decisions had always been at Jerry Buss’s feet and therefore the family were trying to determine who would now be the shot caller. Joe McCormack who worked for Lakers shared that Jeanie had that power authority and that she was the boss. However, the Lakers were held in a trust between all the siblings but any decisions laid at Jeanie’s feet.

This came as a surprise to Jim Buss as he had always believed that Jeanie ran the business and that he ran the basketball side of the business. Although this had come as a surprise to the majority of the Buss siblings it didn’t for Jeanie. Jerry Buss had made it clear to Jeanie Buss she would be the governor of the Lakers. However, the rest of the family did not know this.

Losing a presence such as Dr Jerry Buss was always going to have a detrimental effect on the Lakers. However, following his death the Lakers entered a period of disarray and it came to a head as Jeanie Buss was unsure if Jim Buss was making the correct decisions from a basketball perspective. Every year the Buss family had meetings about the direction at the Lakers were going. The Lakers had missed the playoffs and in Jerry Buss’s ownership the Lakers had only missed the playoffs twice. At the meeting Jim stated that the Lakers would be back in the playoffs within 3 years. However, this looked very unrealistic given the state of their roster. Jeanie Buss said if the Lakers were not back in the playoffs in three years a management change may need to happen. Jim Buss said he would:

Fire myself if the Lakers weren’t back in the playoffs in three years

Jim Buss

Jeanie Buss realized that she had to make a decision the management of the basketball side of the Lakers. This is because the Lakers won’t getting anywhere near the playoffs and the three years Jim had referenced were almost up. Jeanie had to make the decision about removing her brother. Jeanie had bought in Magic Johnson as a consultant and Magic Johnson replaced Jim Buss as head of operations for the Lakers. On 21 February 2017, Magic Johnson took over the basketball operations. Jeanie didn’t want Jim as head of operations, as he may trade the teams future away trying to reach the playoffs in his three year limited. Therefore, Jeanie let him go to preserve the Lakers.

Jeanie Buss’s two brothers tried to oust Jeanie as the governor of the Lakers. Although, Jeanie’s sister sided with her and in the end her brother John, agreed to keep Jeannie as a governor. It was however, a very public affair and genie at one point Jeanie had a restraining order filed against her brothers. The brothers argued that they involved attorneys to see what the trust actually stated and to see whether Jeanie did have the authority as the governor to make them ultimate decisions. The brothers argued that Jeanie shouldn’t be on the board of directors. However, under NBA rules, if Jeanie is not on the board of directors, she could not be the governor of the Lakers. The brothers wanted more directors on the board. The judge reviewing the case read the trust agreement and agreed that Jeanie had ultimate control of Lakers and she would have this for the entirety of her life.

In essence, Jeanie inherited the Lakers. However, it took some twist and turns to get ultimate control of the Lakers.