When the Los Angeles Lakers left the then Great Western Forum in Inglewood for the brand-new Staples Center in Downtown Los Angeles, the area surrounding the new arena was, well, let’s just say it’s not recognizable today compared to how it was back then. So, news that Jeanie Buss, in an email, seriously considered a move back to Inglewood after all the renovation they helped stir is pretty shocking, to say the least.
Through some brilliant reporting, Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times was able to unearth such an email exchange between Buss and Irving Azoff:
“Heres my dream,” Azoff emailed Buss and Rambis on June 14, 2017. “Rebuild the forum from scratch. Lakers plus music. boom.”
Buss responded a half-hour later to the email from Azoff, who has close business ties with the Forum and its owner, Madison Square Garden Co., the New York-based sports and entertainment giant.
“I think about the vision you and [wife] Shelli had when you re-imagined the Forum and how you made it happen,” Buss wrote. “I believe you can do anything.”
Rambis chimed in: “That’s an incredible dream count me in!”
The piece does say that the Lakers intend to re-up their lease in Staples Center once it expires in 2025, but this is absolutely fascinating nonetheless.
Also covered in some email exchanges in the piece: The nickname Buss has for Clippers owner Steve Ballmer (Balls or Ballz), and her thoughts on the Clippers moving to Inglewood (she’s not a fan, though it’s hard to tell why):
“They are all crazy,” she wrote. “This is a joke. Why would Adam let this happen?”
“Adam” is presumably NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
“He has no vote unfortunately,” Azoff responded. “It will be a long legal fight.”
Buss used a nickname for Azoff when she wrote back.
“We need to see you Nugget!!” she wrote. “Didn’t Ballz see what we did to my brother?? He will have nothing but Clippers basketball. Whoopee.”
For someone who reportedly hates leaks so much that she was reportedly prepared to trade LeBron James for such a crime, Jeanie certainly seems to apply some silly putty to her own information avenues.
The entire piece is well worth your time. Azoff apparently wanted at one point to completely rebuild The Forum and design it for both music and the Lakers. As it stands right now, it has been redesigned from how fans might remember the historic building for the repurposing as solely a concert venue.
Fenno also reported that as part of the previously-conceived deal, Jim Dolan would sell a half-stake in the building to the Lakers.
As interesting as all that sounds, as stated earlier, it doesn’t seem like any of this is going to come to fruition and it will be the Clippers who make the move to Inglewood, though that obviously has been complicated by deals made between MSG (the current owners of The Forum) and the city of Inglewood. Such a building for the Clippers and music would offer unwanted competition, even despite how quickly Buss disregarded the prospect.