Why Jim and Jeanie Buss’ Public Sparring Only Makes LA Lakers Look Worse

Infighting has always been a part of the Los Angeles Lakers' makeup. But while Dr. Jerry Buss was around, everyone knew that the internal strife would never represent more than a speed bump on the road to perennial championship contention.

Even when things got particularly bad—like they did when the rift between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal forced a franchise reconfiguration a decade ago—Buss steered the Lakers through a couple of stormy years and back onto a title track.

Now, Dr. Buss is gone. And the Lakers' stability went with him.

In its place, Jim and Jeanie Buss—the two heirs to the Laker throne with the most control over the team's day-to-day affairs—are acting like, well...a pair of bickering siblings.

Signs of organizational fracture started last year, when the Lakers fired Mike Brown just five games into the season. Under the late Dr. Buss, L.A. had always made bold decisions, but they were rarely so rash as the one that resulted in a pink slip for Brown.

The knee-jerk move belied a sense of panic in the front office, proving once and for all that the steady hand was no longer on the wheel.

As we learned soon afterward, there were actually multiple hands vying for control of that wheel. The result has been a back-and-forth tug-of-war that has the Lakers swerving all over the place.

Most attribute Brown's firing to Jim Buss, who took control of player personnel when his father became too ill to oversee that aspect of the franchise. It's hard to know if there was much disagreement on that move; the mechanics of Brown's firing have been one of the few topics on which the Lakers have remained relatively silent.

But evidence of the team's wayward leadership became obvious from the moment L.A. began its search for Brown's replacement.

"We want Phil" chants rained down from the Staples Center rafters as L.A. hunted f...

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