Los Angeles, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Jeanie Buss, the chief of the Los Angeles Lakers’ business operations, admitted that she felt betrayed when the team hired Mike D’Antoni as head coach instead of her fiancé, Hall of Famer Phil Jackson.
Jeanie wrote the admission in an upcoming update to her “Laker Girl” memoir, excerpt of which was published Sunday in the Los Angeles Times.
Buss said she felt she “got played,” referring to the decision ultimately made by her brother Jim, which she has said took her and Jackson by surprise and had been an unsettling experience.
“Why did they have to do that?” Jeanie Buss wrote in the November edition of the book first published in 2010. “Why did Jim pull Phil back into the mix if he wasn’t sincere about it?”
“Phil wasn’t looking for the job, and then he wasted 36 hours of his life preparing for it when they were never in a million years going to hire him anyway,” she added. “How do you do that to your sister? How do you do that to Phil Jackson?”
According to Jim Buss, the hiring of D’Antoni was reflective of the wishes of their father, Jerry Buss, a longtime owner of the Lakers who died in February after an 18-month battle with cancer.
“We did the coaching search and interviews and fed him all the information,” Jim Buss said. “And he said, ‘This is who I want. D’Antoni’s the man.’ Knowing that in the future we had to rebuild, he felt that Phil was not a guy to rebuild.”
Jeanie also questioned the need to lead Jackson on.
“After we went to bed, the house phone rang at 11:30,” she wrote. “I heard Phil pick it up and say, ‘Okay, alright. Okay.”
“When he hung up, I asked him what that was about, and he said, ‘Mitch called to tell me they’ve hired D’Antoni. He said that they feel given the personnel they have that D’Antoni is a better fit,” she added.
However, Jeanie Buss acknowledged in the book that basketball decisions would be made by her brother and business decisions would be made by her.
She also referred to the story that her father wanted D’Antoni because “he wanted to go back to playing Showtime basketball.”
“But there was only one Showtime, never to be replicated. My dad knew that,” Jeanie added.