An interesting nugget has come out about the inner workings of the Buss family ownership of the Los Angeles Lakers. According to an article by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times, Jim Buss told his fellow siblings that if the Lakers fail to become contenders within the next 3-4 years, he would step down as President of Basketball Operations. Below is a snippet of the article by Bresnahan, which you should read in its entirety (link above).
So Jeanie Buss posed an elementary question to her siblings: What was going on with the Lakers?
Her older brother Jim Buss, 54, in charge of the Lakers’ basketball operations, spoke up in the boardroom of the team’s El Segundo training facility and pledged to resign in a few years if the suddenly dark fortunes of the franchise weren’t reversed.
“I was laying myself on the line by saying, if this doesn’t work in three to four years, if we’re not back on the top — and the definition of top means contending for the Western Conference, contending for a championship — then I will step down because that means I have failed,” he told The Times about the meeting. “I don’t know if you can fire yourself if you own the team … but what I would say is I’d walk away and you guys figure out who’s going to run basketball operations because I obviously couldn’t do the job.
“There’s no question in my mind we will accomplish success. I’m not worried about putting myself on the line.”
While that may not seem like a bombshell, it kind of is. This is the Los Angeles Lakers we’re talking about. This is the owner of the Lakers saying that he will resign from his post if he fails to do his job. He’s taking accountability for his job and putting a timeline on the table. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think Jim Buss had it in him.
Most Laker fans feel like Jim Buss is partially to blame for the Lakers failures over the past two seasons. And, yes, he deserves are certain amount of blame. However, he’s just part of the puzzle for the Lakers franchise. Jeanie Buss, however much she is loved in LA, is responsible. So is Mitch Kupchak, Mike D’Antoni, Mike Brown, Kobe Bryant‘s achilles, Steve Nash‘s body, and a plethora of other things. The Lakers franchise is at it’s lowest point. However, these are still the Los Angeles Lakers. This is still the most prominent and most successful franchise in the history of the NBA. This is still Los Angeles. If Jim Buss can’t figure out how to make the Lakers into a contender in the next 3-4 years then he deserves to lose his job.
While this is a good first step for Buss in his quest to get back into the good graces with the Laker fans, let’s not act like Buss is going to be on the streets if the Lakers fail to become contenders by 2018. Buss will still be part of the ownership, will still have a say when it comes to big decisions, and will still influence the direction of the franchise. For Laker fans that believe that this statement by Buss will directly lead to him leaving the franchise completely, you’re delusional. Buss is simply stating that he wants to do what is best for the franchise and that if he’s not getting the job done, he is open to bringing someone in who will. That admission, by itself, is enough to convince me, for the time being, that he understands that wants to do the best job he possibly can for this franchise and wants to do it now.
Whether or not he can actually do his job and bring the Lakers back to the the top of the NBA is an entirely different question.