clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What the Lakers and Jim Buss can learn from the Sam Hinkie 'Process' saga

New, comments

Los Angeles needs clarity from its team's owner going forward.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When Sam Hinkie resigned and the Hinkie Manifesto leaked for the Internet to consume, the Process had been mercilessly killed for everybody to see. The writing was on the wall the moment Jerry Colangelo was hired, as I wrote as soon as it happened.

There were many flaws to Hinkie's "Process." It didn't create a winning culture, treated players and agents poorly, and didn't even attempt to field a respectable tanking team. All that being said I believe his ultimate flaw was letting the media and national voices dictate the narrative of his "Process," rather than himself.

Part of being a leader of an organization is to articulate your vision - not only to the media, but to the people you are leading. This is where Hinkie failed most - he let Brett Brown take all the hits for years until this current season when Jerry Colangelo instructed Hinkie to get out there more often. The trap Hinkie fell into, and this is a trap many super intelligent people fall into, is that he felt his eventual results will speak for themselves. I can appreciate a person not wanting to thump their chest and talk about how brilliant their own plans are, there is a middle ground that needs to be achieved and Sam let the vacuum left by the lack of his voice publicly fill with negativity and ridicule - both of which can be predicted.

Similarly, Jim Buss has had an incredibly quiet public persona given his last name and his position running the basketball side of one of the most prestigious sports organizations in the world.

The front office combination of Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss has produced both hits and misses without a doubt. All things considered, the two have not done a bad job of building this franchise up after swinging and missing at the Dwight Howard/Steve Nash offseason. I want my franchise taking those shots, and the side effect of taking risks is that when you fail, you fail badly. Given the assets left post-Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant's injuries, draft protections, the fact that the Lakers have solid core of young player and cap flexibility is a job well done.

So why the negativity surrounding Jim Buss specifically? From Laker legend Magic Johnson to Outraged Muppet Stephen A Smith, the popular view of Jim Buss is that he's a buffoon who has no plan and has failed miserably as the VP of Basketball Operations. Well, it's because he's let the Hinkie Vacuum fill up and hasn't let the Lakers fans and national media know who he is.

All we know about Jim Buss is the asinine, arrogant deadline that he set for himself.The public face and voice of the Lakers, Jeanie Buss, doesn't hesitate to bring it up whenever she's asked about it which contributes to that Hinkie Vacuum being filled up by even more negativity.

I consider myself (and readers on this site) to be in at least the top 5-10% of nutty, dedicated Lakers fans and all I know about Jim Buss is that deadline, and the rest is a story I've told myself - again, filling that Hinkie Vacuum. This is what I've pieced together, in my mind: He's a competitive guy, who's sick and tired of being the "owner's son" and is finally in a position to prove himself. He's pissed off that his entire life he's been written off and he is only fueled by proving people wrong about him.

So, instead of publicly defending everything he's done - he just wants to wait until his team either wins a championship or becomes a contender faster than expected and then call into every show and appear on every blog and website just with double middle fingers with the simple message of "I TOLD YOU SO!"

While that may work in a fantasy world, as a leader of an NBA franchise you have to answer to more than just yourself. You have fans, media, prospective free agents, the league as a business partner, sponsors, TV channels and more, who need to know that the franchise is in good hands.

Is it too late for Jim to right the ship? Maybe. The deadline has become so synonymous with Jim Buss' abilities that anything he will say now will be interpreted as walking back his own promise. At the same time, it's now or never - Jim has to start filling in the Hinkie Vacuum, and he has to start now.

You can follow this author on Twitter at @damanr.