Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Jim Buss, executive vice president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers, listens during then-new coach Mike Brown's speech at a May 2011 press conference. Buss is now in talks with former coach Phil Jackson about his return, after Brown was fired.
Popular belief is that if Phil Jackson wants his job back, he has it.
Jackson met with Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak and Vice President Jim Buss on Saturday. And although no formal offer has been reported, Buss’ willingness to sit at the table with Jackson shows significant maturity on the part of the Lakers’ vice president.
Over the past year, Buss has completely transformed his image in the eyes of Laker fans. He was originally known as the man who insisted on letting everyone know that he, personally, drafted Andrew Bynum. Then, Buss refused to trade Bynum because that was "his guy."
In the eyes of the fans, Buss appeared to be the fortunate son taking over the most beloved franchise in Los Angeles, and the future did not look bright.
After Jackson was swept out of the playoffs on the last go-around, Buss did not even present the greatest coach in NBA history with an offer to stay. Instead, Buss went out of his way to ignore the fans, players, and the media when selecting his next coach.
The Lakers passed on Brian Shaw and Rick Adelmen in favor of Mike Brown. Kobe made it clear that he was not happy with Brian Shaw being overlooked.
Buss, however, made it clear that the Lakers were his team.
After a painful season under Mike Brown and the Lakers’ slow painful death to the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, Buss clearly matured in his management of the team.
He marked the summer with a string of smart moves. Buss got rid of Bynum—his guy—and brought in Dwight Howard, answering the fans’ prayers. It seemed Buss had finally realized that his bread is buttered by the fans.
Also, Steve Nash came over, and the inexplicable trade-exception Lamar Odom shipment finally made sense.
Buss also decided to take care of a couple lingering issues involving Laker greats. The Lakers announced that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar would finally have a statue outside Staples Center and Shaq would finally have his jersey retired at Staples Center.
In the fans’ eyes, Mike Brown underwhelmed in his management of this team. He was, however, a clear Buss hire. After only five games, Brown was gone. So Buss, once again, sacrificed his ego for the good of his team.
On Friday, the voices of the players and fans inside Staples Center begged for Phil Jackson and politely endorsed Mike D’Antoni.
On Saturday, Phil Jackson was at the table.
Buss is on the verge of becoming a beloved figure because he finally figured out that he may be the owner, but the Los Angeles Lakers belong to the fans.