Jeanie Buss calls out leaks, dysfunction in organization when Magic Johnson was president
As part of a recent interview with The Athletic, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss dove in on the leaks and reports of dysfunction in her franchise during Magic Johnson’s tenure as president of basketball operations.
Johnson took the executive job with the Lakers in February of 2017, replacing Jim Buss. Though the team acquired several talented players on Magic’s watch, including LeBron James, they were unable to reach the playoffs. And in an impromptu news conference on April 9, 2019, Johnson resigned from his position, citing a desire to return to his role as an NBA ambassador.
There were several reports of dysfunction within the hierarchy of the team at that time — a fact that Jeanie Buss touched on in her interview with The Athletic:
“There were too many voices (in the room), too many leaks, too many people talking and not being on the same page. Buss, who will arrive inside the NBA’s bubble complex this week, told The Athletic. “And so we took the offseason to shore those things up. We like to collaborate together, to be on the same page. It doesn’t mean just a bunch of people agreeing for the sake of agreeing. We like to hash things out, debate, just work through.
“So yes, the people that I rely on, that I trust — Rob leading our front office, Kurt Rambis being an adviser, Linda Rambis who I’ve worked with for over 30 years. These are the people that I trust, and then bringing on a coaching staff that reflected those beliefs and that level of collaboration.”
The Lakers have added even more talent since Magic Johnson’s tenure as president of basketball ops. Players like Kyle Kuzma and Alex Caruso are continuing to develop into key role players for the team.
“When I look back at all the different things that have transpired, to be here now is really a testament to the people that I trust the most, which are Rob and Kurt Rambis and Linda Rambis and my younger two brothers, Jesse Buss and Joey Buss,” Jeanie Buss noted in her interview with The Athletic.
“Jesse is the head of our scouting, and has done a fantastic job identifying talent like Kyle Kuzma late in the draft. And Joey Buss, who runs our G-League team, the South Bay Lakers, (where) somebody like Alex Caruso was part of our G-League team and is continuing to develop his game and has now become an important part of this success.”
The Lakers have done well for themselves in the wake of Johnson’s departure. After posting gentleman sweeps over each of their opponents in this year’s playoffs, Los Angeles is now set to face the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals. That’s not to say that Magic was the reason for the team’s struggles in the past. On the contrary, the five-time champion actually played a big role in LeBron James’ decision to join the team in the first place. And by some strange twist of fate, The King is now pitted against his former team on the NBA’s biggest stage.