Phil Jackson Was Not Part of Jerry Buss’ Final Plan for LA Lakers

According to Frank Isola and Peter Botte of the New York Daily News, the New York Knicks will hold a press conference next Tuesday to announce the hiring of Phil Jackson as the team’s new president of basketball operations—a position that will pay the legendary coach between $12 and $15 million per season.

Meanwhile, 2,800 miles away, fans of the floundering Los Angeles Lakers wax weary over how ownership—knowing Jackson was looking to get back into the basketball fold—never thought to make amends with the man as responsible as any other for five of the franchise’s 15 championship banners.

If recent revelations about the late Jerry Buss’ plan for his crossroads-straddled team are to be believed, it’s because Jackson was never part of the blueprint to begin with.

In a story published at on Friday, Ramona Shelburne suggests the elder Buss—who passed away a year ago February—wanted his two children, Jeannie and Jim, to forge a future where family blood bound the franchise beyond the basketball court:

If he’d wanted to involve Johnson or West or Jackson, he would’ve. Which is why down to the very last moment, even as influential courtesans and fans lobbied her to stage a coup, Jeanie Buss stayed silent and remained loyal to her father’s wishes. She believes that’s what he wanted. And she believes in supporting her brother Jim and general manager Mitch Kupchak no matter what, even if it means her fiancee is destined to leave and live in another city.

It’s just one of many instructive anecdotes found in Shelburne’s piece, which details, in the author’s words, the “Game of Thrones” air that has hung about House Buss for the better part of the last two years.

It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in psychology to appreciate the tension at play: Jackson and Jim Buss haven’t exactly be...

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