Earlier this week on February 9th, The Wise Ass Show sat down with Jeanie Buss for a full exclusive interview. For full show, click here.
Here’s some insight from the interview.
Jeanie on Magic Johnson closing the deal with LeBron
We’d been kind of humbled by some of the free agent activity in the last few years, so as much as we’d like to think it was going to be easy, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But really Magic put us in a direction where it was clear to everybody where we were going, what we were doing and that we had a leader. Every decision Magic and Rob Pelinka (our general manager) were making complemented the decision before it. If we weren’t all over the map, it was clear that we were united behind our coach and the style of play that he wants to play. We set a stage as best we could and whatever was going to happen was going to happen. I believe in Magic and I believe in his conviction of what he wants the Lakers to be and we’re watching people gravitate to that and want to be part of what we are building. Magic had a meeting with him (LeBron) after free agency started and he gave me the download the meeting and that he thought it went well. We had to respect his process to allow LeBron to consider all his options. This was HIS free agency and his decision to make and there was no rush. We were going to give him whatever time he needed make the decision that was important to him and to his family.
Jeanie on the pain of losing their connection to the LA fans
The Lakers under Dr Buss in 35 years he owned the team only missed the playoffs twice. Success was always being part of the conversation. It’s a disappointment every year when we don’t win a title. When you’re competing at something, you’re not looking at that 8th spot, you’re looking to win. Being at the bottom of the standings wasn’t what our brand really stood for. We saw our ratings starting to drop and when you see a kid in your neighborhood wearing a T Shirt for the champion Golden State Warriors, it hurts a little bit. And we were losing our connection to the fans because we weren’t part of the playoff picture. When you lose your direction it’s hard to recover that and we had to get things going back in the right direction. And I feel that people can see the direction that we’re going in, they can see a path that we’re building to the success that we’d like to have.
Jeanie on the story behind Shaq leaving the Lakers
It had nothing to do with Shaq’s age. It had to do with the fact that his contract had been “grandfathered” through the previous collective bargaining agreement, so the amount of money that he could get paid was not something that Dr. Buss felt he wanted to pay. And so it was really just about the contract and it was clear that there wasn’t going to be an agreement and it was time to make a trade. If he had come down from his asking price there wouldn’t have been a trade, it was really just about finances.
Jeanie on Kobe Bryant
He is the best. His basketball, his intellect, his determination. He sets the bar. Twenty years with one team? You’ll never see that again. The definition of success and hard work.