The Los Angeles Lakers take on the Washington Wizards on Friday night at Staples Center, and Jeanie Buss, President of the Lakers, expects to be in her seat.
For all intents and purposes, Buss began her public presidency with the Los Angeles Lakers this week. She appeared on Time Warner Cable, the television partner of the team, and on ESPN Radio, the radio partner of the Lakers, on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.
Both times, she attempted to explain why she had not been more visible at games the past two seasons. Initially, Buss explained that she had not been in the arena often because she had instead opted to selfishly spend time with her father prior to his passing.
After Dr. Jerry Buss passed away, she chose to selfishly stay in with Phil Jackson, her fiancé, rather than attend games because he was, well, not working. Many would argue for a better word, but she described her reasons as “selfish.”
During Wednesday night’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs, however, she sat in her seat--the one in the corner, off the court. It sits on the opposite side as the scorer’s table, and it has been filled by a host of famous faces and family friends for most of the games during the past two years.
During halftime of Wednesday’s game, she received so much attention and adoration that the walkway in front of her seat resembled slow moving traffic on the 10 freeway on a Lakers home game night.
No coincidence, Jackson received a standing ovation at Madison Square Garden earlier in the same night. Jackson’s departure from LA and presidency with the New York Knicks was the best thing that could have happened to the Lakers because it allowed Buss to finally step in and assume responsibility and take ownership of the franchise.
Jackson was President of the Knicks, and she was President of the Lakers.
As Jackson was doing press conferences and making public appearances, Buss had to be reminded that she owed her fans the same explanations and interactions. Buss was accountable for everything, and she had to be the voice of the organization.
America may not yet have a woman in charge of the White House, but the Los Angeles Lakers have a female president.
During her media rounds, she explained the state of the team to the fan base. On Thursday, she went as far as to answer questions directly from frustrated fans live on the radio--yes, those fans who call up the talk radio shows. Buss answered their question with grace and charisma.
“Jeanie” was finally ready to replace “Jerry,” and it would not have been possible if Jackson had not left town. Say what one will about the mistakes the Lakers have made up until this point, hearing Buss’ spirited voice helped heal the pain and look ahead to the future.
“I’m the boss,” Buss said a couple times on the radio, and that phrase resonated.
Just as New York is elated about Jackson’s presence and personality infecting its organization and cleaning its mess, Los Angeles should be equally euphoric about Buss’ presidency overseeing the recovery.
For all the flack Dr. Buss has received for his decisions regarding hiring Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, he got this one right. He left Jeanie in charge, and it appears as though she is finally ready to take control.