On Thursday, Carmelo Anthony expects to arrive via limousine at the offices of the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Lakers are expected to charm the popular free agent.
Apparently, the Lakers’ charm offensive now includes co-owner and president Jeanie Buss. Although Buss claims no direct involvement in the basketball operations of the team, the Lakers’ business czar appears set to, at the very least, be present in the room.
This is a dramatic shift in the Lakers’ separation of church and state.
By design of the late Dr. Jerry Buss, the Lakers’ basketball operations are the responsibility of Jim Buss, assisted by general manager Mitch Kupchak. Meanwhile, the business side of the Lakers is run by Jeanie. Prior to Thursday’s meeting, Jim and Jeanie have seemingly remained in their opposite corners and often been portrayed as having a contentious relationship.
Ultimately, though, Jeanie must answer for the franchise as a whole, and after the worst season in LA Lakers’ history, the president seems to be more involved than ever before.
The inclusion of Jeanie in the meeting with Anthony is a dramatic shift from the approach the Lakers took towards Dwight Howard in his free agent meeting with the team a year earlier. On that occasion, the Lakers’ meeting party--which ultimately proved to be unsuccessful--included Kobe Bryant and former coach Mike D’Antoni. This time, it remains unclear whether Bryant is even in the country, and the Lakers still do not have a coach.
Considering re-signing of Howard was a basketball decision, Jeanie was not present, but Jim and Kupchak were.
A year on, Lakers’ management appears to have grown from that experience and now appreciates the added voice, personality and brains of Jeanie. Since the passing of Jerry, the Lakers have been portrayed as a fragmented organization with fans picking sides. Unscientifically putting a wet finger in the air, one would rather confidently hypothesize that the vast majority of fans back Jeanie over Jim in all things Lakers.
With Jeanie’s involvement in the meeting to convince Anthony, the greater majority of fans can no longer blame Jim alone for everything that goes wrong with the team. Even if Jeanie sits silently and simply watches the meeting unfold, having her in the room carries greater symbolic meaning.
The Lakers are united, and the organization is on the same page.