The Los Angeles Lakers have been defined by continued and persistent ineptitude since Dr. Jerry Buss passed away in 2013. After his death, Jeanie Buss was made the top decision-maker, with Jim Buss handling basketball operations. After four years of stumbling around in the lottery, Jim was given his walking papers, and Jeanie replaced him and Mitch Kupchak with Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka.
Things somehow got worse, despite the retirement of Kobe Bryant and arrival of LeBron James.
2013 through to now has been quite easily the lowest point in the history of the organization and to this point, the one constant has been Jeanie. But when Adam Silver was asked about her ability to run an organization on ESPN’s “Get Up,” he offered up a vote of confidence:
As drama swirls around the Los Angeles Lakers, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he has “tremendous” confidence in team owner Jeanie Buss and believes that the team will turn things around.
”I know Jeanie knows how to manage a team,” Silver said in a wide-ranging interview on ESPN’s Get Up on Wednesday morning. “Sure, when things start to go wrong, a lot of fingers get pointed. But they’ll figure it out.”
Remember, Silver answers to the various owners across the league. The last thing he’s going to do here is throw dirt on one of the NBA’s flagship organizations, no matter how obviously in-over-her-head Jeanie Buss appears.
A competent owner would have opened up the candidate search to bring in as many elite executives across the league as the team could after she fired Jim Buss and Kupchak. She instead hired Magic Johnson seemingly minutes later. A competent owner would’ve opened up a candidate search to find a general manager Johnson was comfortable with and made up for his lack of executive experience. She instead saddled Johnson with Pelinka — a pairing that Johnson has repeatedly crapped on during his recent media tour.
When Johnson resigned a couple months ago, a competent owner would have taken advantage of that gift and opened up a candidate search to replace Johnson, at least speaking to some of the elite executives who might have been interested at that time. Jeanie Buss instead promoted Pelinka, pissing off enough Lakers staffers to partially fill a 5,000-word opus on the franchise’s current state of utter dysfunction, and has yet to answer for any of these mistakes.
We can call Jeanie all kinds of things. She’s by all accounts fiercely loyal and one of the nicest people you will hope to meet at that level of wealth, and that compassion has been demonstrated publicly. But what we cannot call her is a competent owner who “knows how to manage a team.” That’s just objectively untrue given all the evidence to the contrary.
Maybe she’ll figure things out (unlikely). Maybe none of this matters and the draw of the Lakers with LeBron James — who can be publicly sold as in need of rescuing from the aforementioned ineptitude by another star — is too much for a superstar to turn down. Or maybe Jeanie just will never get it, and will continue to prioritize working with her friends above what’s actually best for the Lakers (sigh).
No matter how those things go, though, don’t expect Silver — who works for Jeanie, don’t forget — to criticize the person in charge of all this mess on national TV.
I mean, he’s not Magic Johnson, after all.