Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Is Marriage For Suckers?

A great article appeared today by Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen about Brian Shaw's unsuccessful hunt for the L.A. Lakers' head coaching position. While Shaw is a very strong candidate, Mike Brown is as well and I don't view the Lakers' decision as clearly unreasonable. I did notice, however, the recurring suggestion that Jim Buss, son of team owner Jerry Buss, wanted to expunge any trace of Phil Jackson's leadership from his organization.

After 11 championship-laden seasons with Jackson, there seems little reason to change the organization's direction, particularly when the core players from the recent title teams are ready for at least one more run. Perhaps the Busses are eager to prove that they, and not the coaching staff, are the ultimate drivers of success in the organization. The Buss family will likely lead the Lakers franchise as long as the NBA exists (until the next global nuclear war, perhaps); it may behoove them to show the rest of the league that their permanence will long dominate passing staff. But the Lakers, like most successful teams, have maintained ties to their great alumni: Abdul-Jabbar was an assistant coach, Johnson a part-owner, West the general manager. Why send Jackson's entire squad of assistant coaches out of SoCal?

The real story may be the part left silent in Thomson's SI article. Jackson has, almost since he showed up in Los Angeles in 1999, been the steady boyfriend (by now and at their age, a husband, really, though he apparently does not prefer the ratification of law) of Jeannie Buss, who is Jim's brother and also a Vice-President in the Laker organization. So Jim does not like his quasi-brother-in-law, or at least prefers not to do business with the tall one. Joining a "company family" is not easy; I would rather keep my professional life out of my home, and vice-versa. I wonder what Thanksgiving dinner around the Buss table might be like later this month.

UPDATE: This writer had the same thoughts as I did after reading the SI.com piece.

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