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Jim Buss tried to make Kobe Bryant a part-owner of the Lakers

It didn’t work.

WSJ.D LIVE After Dark Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Dow Jones

Before he passed away, former Los Angeles Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss did his best to make the trust he was leaving the team’s shares in for his children as Byzantine as possible, to ensure none of them would be able to stage some sort of coup or divide amongst themselves in infighting.

It half worked. Jeanie Buss has solidified her control over the Lakers after her brothers, Jim and Johnny Buss, attempted a pseudo palace coup against her earlier this season.

As time has passed, more information on the Jim Buss era has begun to trickle out, with the latest coming from Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. There was the story of how the Lakers’ front office was talking with the Atlanta Hawks about trading some of their young players for Paul Millsap before Jeanie Buss stepped in.

That would have been a shortsighted and harmful misstep, but Shelburne also had an anecdote about one of the more amusing mistakes Buss made: the time he attempted to bring on another, very famous (minority share) co-owner:

Was this just another quick cash grab? Or an ill-conceived gesture, like the time last season when Jim tried to offer Kobe Bryant shares in the franchise as a show of appreciation -- similar to what his father had once done for Johnson -- without researching or understanding that the trust doesn't allow that kind of a transfer? Or were the brothers trying to seize power and control of the franchise?

That is... a pretty embarrassing (albeit well-meaning) mistake to make. It’s also interesting to learn that (similarly to the current front office regime) Jim Buss wanted to get Kobe Bryant more involved with the Lakers in retirement.

Bryant has since said he’d be more open to working with the team behind the scenes than any formal position, and it sounds like whatever that role is, it won’t be in ownership for the foreseeable future.

Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.

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