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Los Angeles Lakers owner on Phil Jackson, Lebron James, and Magic Johnson’s influence on team’s future

Jason Burgos

Los Angeles Lakers majority owner Jeanie Buss will have the final say in the team’s significant decisions this offseason, however, she admits that legends of the franchise’s past and present will have an influence on those choices.

The Laker’s franchise is in a transition period as they search for a new head coach. In April, the team dismissed Frank Vogel after they missed the playoffs and finished with a 33-49 record two seasons after winning an NBA championship. The organization also has several decisions to make when it comes to its roster, including if Russell Westbrook will be on the team in the 2022-2023 season.

In a Tuesday interview with the Los Angeles Times, Buss spoke on the process the team is in the midst of as they prepare for next season. Last week, reports stated that team and league coaching legend Phil Jackson had a role in the franchise’s head coach search. Buss was asked about her one-time fiancee’s new influence and explained that the nine-time champion coach is one of several members of the team’s family that just wants the best for the Los Angeles Lakers franchise.

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Los Angeles Lakers boss on Phil Jackson and Magic Johnson’s influence

los angeles lakers, lebron james
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

“People see us around town, we have breakfast, lunch, dinner, whatever … it’s not anything romantic,” Buss said. “He’s somebody that knows this environment and knows the challenges I have and wants to see the Lakers successful. So he’s somebody I know doesn’t have any other agenda than for the Lakers to be successful, so he’s somebody that I can lean on.”

Another Lakers legend that has long had an influence on the franchise is NBA great Earvin “Magic” Johnson. The Hall-of-Famer’s relationship with the team has been strained at times as he has held various roles, including as a coach and executive. However, Jeanie Buss says her relationship with Johnson is as strong as ever and his opinion does hold weight as well.

“Bottom line, the Lakers are important to him and he wants the Lakers to win, and he wants the Lakers to be on top,” Buss told The Times about Johnson. “I know that’s in his heart, and I trust him, and … my relationship with him is as good as it’s ever been.”

Jeanie Buss on Lebron James and Clutch Sports: ‘Are they running the team? No, no, not at all’

los angeles lakers, lebron james
Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

However, there is also the team’s current superstar, Lebron James, and the power many in the industry have felt he has within the organization. Buss admitted in her conversation that the four-time champion’s opinion matters, and that is only normal for such an important player on a team.

“It’s normal when you have a top player or players, you bounce things off of them,” Buss said. “I think that’s smart business.”

However, she also looked to clarify the opinion that James and his management team Clutch Sports have an even bigger say than a normal player and their entourage. “Are they running the team? No, no, not at all. I am controlling owner of the Los Angeles Lakers,” she said. “I’m held accountable for every decision that’s made here.”