LA Lakers President Jeanie Buss Bears It All

A lot of people loved Winning Time, but I understand how something like this could be personal for you since it is your family. Was it personal for you?

I’m conflicted because I think John C. Reilly captured a lot of my dad in his performance. And, you know, I miss my dad. So, revisiting some of those fond memories, I have to say, was nice for me. But, you know: the timeline was completely wrong with my grandmother and things like that. I felt like I was watching a TV show, I wasn’t watching my life.

You talked about your brothers: Is there still tension in the family after what happened? While watching Legacy, there’s feels like there’s still a bit of beef on the table. You mentioned that things are on the mend, so how are things going with family rehabilitation?

Really well. This doc allowed a lot of healing to take place, with everybody being able to say their piece. When my father passed away, the Lakers value would have probably been pegged between $1.5 billion and, you know, we hadn’t yet sold the Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. And, now, the Forbes valuation has our team worth over $5 billion.

In the 10 years, I think they would say I’ve been a good steward of the brand. I’ve protected the shareholders. We won a championship and are now tied with the Celtics in terms of titles. So: I think they would say that I was the right person for the job and that’s what my dad had intended.

When you spend your entire life with one team you hold so many stories. What is your go-to, party-favor story?

[laughs] You mean about players or…?

Whatever was the first one was that just popped up into your mind right there.

You know, I talk about Phil Jackson a lot. When my dad hired him, I kind of rolled my eyes, like why are we gonna bring this guy in. He seems high-maintenance. Then, of course, we started a relationship that lasted 17 years. He would famously give players books. During the first long road trip of the season, he’d give them a book. And, you know, a lot of the players would throw them in their locker or make fun of it in the media.

And I finally said to him, “I don’t understand. Why do you keep doing it? They don’t read it.”

He goes, “Jeanie: it’s not about them reading it right then. That book may sit on their shelf for 10 years, but someday they will. And they’ll receive the message when they’re ready for what I was trying to share with them.” It’s little things like that…the purposefulness and intention of what this game can mean to the people that are involved in it.

I’m just thinking about Kobe, again. A few years ago, he called Phil. After he retired, he started coaching his daughter’s basketball team. He was teaching them the Triangle Offense. And he called Phil in Montana and said, “Can you give me some more ideas for books?” That, that, I really do believe someday Kobe would have been an amazing NBA coach. And Phil continued to feed him with information, plant those ideas in his head. That’s kind of a gift…

Lakers fans are obviously nuts…


When you’ve won so much, and hung so many banners, it entitles people to believe winning can last forever. For you, you’ve had the luxury of seeing it all, and now you’re coming off one tumultuous season and heading into another one: What keeps you grounded in the tough moments?

Phil [Jackson] would always say that, “every year there’s a pathway to a championship.” Sometimes it may be completely uphill [laughs] or, you know, through a rainforest! But you always have to see that there’s success at the end of the journey and you just continue on that path. Every step you take gets you closer to that. You can’t win every year, but every year you have to have that open mind and open heart, thinking that you can get there.

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