The Los Angeles Lakers front office has made numerous key decisions since Jim Buss ascended to his current position as vice president of basketball operations for the franchise in 2005, all of which culminated in back-to-back championships with the tandem of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. Buss recently opened up about his role in bringing those championships to Los Angeles in a sprawling interview with Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times.
Buss said he played a big part in more than just drafting Andrew Bynum, discussing his work behind the scenes and telling Pincus that he has been involved in every major move the Lakers have made over his tenure. This ranged from luring Phil Jackson back to coach the team in 2005, to when the team acquired Gasol in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies -- a move that kick-started the team's three straight trips to the NBA Finals and back-to-back championships.
He went on to say he understands that most fans do not associate him with that period of success, instead mostly blaming him for the team setting new franchise lows in terms of record for the past two consecutive seasons, via Pincus:
"I could care less if Mitch gets all the credit for it, he's the GM. He's the center point. When it came to blame, you'd think it'd be the same kind of thing but people look at me as kind of a privileged kid."
He continued: "Nobody knows how hard I've worked this entire time. ... My personality is to not to take credit for my work. It doesn't bother me because it's self-satisfaction that I know I've done a good job, I know I work hard, and that's all I needed to know."
The notoriously media-shy Buss seldom gives interviews, so this sit-down with Pincus was a rare look into the mind of the Lakers' chief basketball decision maker. With a very public deadline from his sister Jeanie to return the Lakers to contention over the next two seasons, Jim is shedding light on the fact that he played a larger role in the team's recent successes as well as the current downturn.
The entire feature on Buss is worth a read, and he also gave insight into how he evaluates the play of Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell in Las Vegas Summer League, how the team approached its eventual selection of Russell with the second-overall pick, and what makes up a "core player" for the Lakers going forward.