After providing an emotional and rousing tribute to the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Magic Johnson close the memorial with this hopeful plea.
“Please Buss family,” Johnson said. “Do not ever sell the Lakers. Win more championships.”
THe Buss family has made it clear they won’t plan on selling the team. Buss’ six children, including Jeanie, Jim, Johnny, Joey, Jesse and Janie Drexel all will have ownership stakes. The Lakers have set up a trust that Jeanie, Jim and Johnny Buss will run.
Jim Buss remain as Lakers executive vice president of player personnel, a title he’s had in eight of his 15 years with the organization. Jeanie Buss will keep her title as the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations, a role she’s had for the past 14 season. She will also become the governor, representing the Lakers voice as league ownership meetings.
But there’s one significant change on who’s in charge.
“I report to Jimmy Buss,” Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said.
If it were up to Johnson, Jeanie Buss would run the Lakers.
“Dr. Buss brought her up and groomed her to run this thing,” Johnson said before the memorial outside Nokia Theatre. “There’s no secret. Everybody knows that. But we’ll see what happens.”
Does Johnson believe Jim and Jeanie will be able to work together?
“I hope so,” Johnson said.
Plenty of attention centers on Jim and Jeanie.
The partnership has experienced conflicts. The most recent one happened this past November, when the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni instead of Phil Jackson to replace the fired Mike Brown.
Jackson, who recently became engaged to Jeanie, believed the Lakers would rehire him after meeting with him at his Playa del Rey home. That didn’t happen.
“Sometimes a situation like this brings a family closer together,” Johnson said. “I hope this happens for them. They’ll make the decisions for the best organization, not for oneself, but for the Lakers organization.”
Buss, 80, bought the Lakers in 1979, when he purchased the team along with the Forum, the NHL’s Kings and a 13,000-acre ranch in Kern County from Jack Kent Cooke for $67.5 million. Buss then oversaw 10 of the Lakers’ 16 NBA championships and built a franchise Forbes magazine recently valued at $1 billion.
Clearly, the Buss family has a large legacy to fulfill.
“They know the man,” Johnson said of Dr. Buss’ children. “They know what he wants. They know they can’t sell the team. They want him to keep the team. They have to carry on what he has built and carry on the best in class in standard in excellence.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at email@example.com