Video: ‘Exhibit A’ On Why Phil Jackson Leaving LA

In the past few weeks, the main media has erroneously reported a supposed rift between Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant that allegedly began when Bryant’s wife Vanessa broke up Gasol’s relationship with girlfriend Silvia Lopez Castro.

That rumor, thanks to comments by Gasol as early as last Saturday, has now been completely debunked. Gasol has since confirmed he is still with Castro and nothing has changed in their relationship.

While that break between Gasol and Bryant never existed, now ex-Lakers Coach Phil Jackson confirmed yesterday a disconnect between himself and a key member of the Lakers basketball operation and ownership.

Wednesday, as Jackson conducted his final press conference as Lakers coach, he was asked by FOX Sports Radio reporter David Vassegh:

“Do feel you have a stronger sense of attachment (to the Lakers) other than Jeanie (Buss, Jackson girlfriend and daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss) than you did with the Bulls?” 

Jackson reply:

“There are people in the organization, yes, that I have an attachment to. You know I haven’t spoken to (Lakers Exec. VP, Player Personnel and son of owner Jerry) Jimmy Buss this year.

“Jerry I see occasionally and we confer. (Lakers General Manager) Mitch (Kupchak) and I have our chances to be together and we have a good relationship. Those are people in that department that I have a relationship with.

“As far as management, if you want to call it that, there’s really not a relationship with that.”

Jackson couldn’t have slighted Jim Buss any more in his comments than he did with that remark.

Longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss has made clear on numerous occasions that Jim Buss will formally take over the basketball operation of the team when he relinquishes all control of the franchise. (Jeanie will continue to run the business operation.)

While Mitch Kupchak technically runs the Lakers basketball operation, eventually he will report solely to Jim Buss, though from Jerry’s comments last August, it sounds as if that is already the case.

During a press conference on August 17, 2010, Jerry Buss said of his role with the team’s basketball operation:

“I still talk to my son Jimmy at least twice a day. Some of those phone calls are as long as an hour. The large portion of the content of those phone calls is basketball. What we should do, what we’re doing. 

“In terms of (Lakers basketball) decisions, 80% of it goes with Jim and I throw in my two cents worth here and there.”

That Jim Buss did not speak to Jackson this season is very telling when it comes to the coach’s relationship to the future, formal overseer of the Lakers basketball fortunes.

If you’re wondering why Jackson is leaving L.A., there’s your ‘Exhibit A.’

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Billion Dollar TV Deal Saves Team For Buss Family

Yesterday Joe Flint of the LOS ANGELES TIMES and this morning John Ourand of SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY reported the Lakers have agreed to a 20-year local broadcast rights agreement with Time Warner Cable for an eye-popping $3 billion.

Mitch Kupchak, Jim Buss, Jerry Buss

(Jim Buss (ctr) helps run Lakers basketball ops with Mitch Kupchak (l))

Though Flint also reported that Time Warner officials “dismisssed” the $3 billion figure, I’ve been told by multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations today that that number is accurate, with one source noting to me that the reported $3 billion number “may actually be conservative.”

So as of the 2012-13 season all Lakers game in Los Angeles, except for national telecasts, will air on cable. Currently, the games here in L.A. are broadcast on over-the-air station KCAL 9 (CBS) and cable channel Fox Sports West.

As the English and Spanish cable channels TWC will air the games on don’t yet exist, TWC still has to convince Direct TV, Dish Network and the Cox and Charter cable television operations to pick up those new sports channels at what Ourand reported Time Warner Cable Exec VP/Chief Programming Officer Melinda Witmer calling a “reasonable” financial basis:

“We are seeking to work with all of the distributors to find a reasonable basis to get full distribution of the network. We want the Lakers to be available to everyone regardless of who their provider is.”

Flint reports that in order for TWC to pay that enormous broadcast rights fee, it will have to charge a rate significantly higher than what Fox Sports West currently charges satellite and cable companies to broadcast Lakers games in Los Angeles:

Consumers may feel some pain as a result of the deal. Regional Sports Networks (RSNs) are generally some of the most expensive programming for distributors. Typically, RSNs cost between north of $2.50 per month, per subscriber. Given the high cost of the Lakers, Time Warner Cable will likely be looking for north of $3.50.

You can expect Cox, Charter, Dish and DTV to publicly balk at such a fee hike, but TWC apparently has a plan that it hopes will make them more amenable. From Flint:

Time Warner Cable, which has about 2 million subscribers in Southern California, isn’t looking to stop with the Lakers. In an interview, Melinda Witmer, executive vice president and chief programming officer of Time Warner Cable, said the company would be “looking at all available sports in the marketplace.”

Next on their list could be the Dodgers. The team’s current pact with Fox’s Prime Ticket channel expires in 2013.

In other words, if TWC were to have the Lakers and  Dodgers for its new sports channels, it’d essentially have a gun to the head of Cox, Charter, Dish and DTV. Though it is important to note that Fox Sports West has a favorable contractual arrangement with the Dodgers and, from what multiple sources within the team tell me, is more likely to retain those rights.

If this Lakers TV deal sounds unusual, it isn’t. There are other markets in which cable companies have jumped into the sports business, but this is TWC’s first foray.

While this is big news for Lakers fans, the more important part of this story is what it will mean to the ownership of the team.

From Flint:

Witmer said the move to get into business with the Lakers is part of its overall desire to “control our economic destiny.”

Read more…

Buss: ‘No playoffs? You don’t work here anymore’

Lakers Owner Jerry Buss to the ASSOCIATED PRESS this week:

Jerry Buss female Lakers fan

(Okay, you can stay)

“Some time ago, talking to some people, they wanted a bonus if the Lakers made the playoffs. I said, `Bonus? If we don’t make the playoffs, you don’t work here anymore.”’

Buss also opined on the derision borne of LeBron James‘ recent decision:

Given the devastating affect James’ decision had on the team and the city, Buss had “mixed emotions” about James’ departure and felt he “let down a lot of people and it seemed kind of sad.”

More snips: Read more…

USC Alum Buss: Mike Garrett Tenure “Wonderful”

Mike Garrett has been savaged by media and fans since he was unceremoniously ousted as USC Athletic Director by school President-elect Max Nikias last week.

Jerry Buss at USC football game

After 17 years on the job, Garrett departs with USC having recently been saddled with the harshest NCAA sanctions against a college football program since the SMU death penalty. Characterizing those penalties as the result of “envyreportedly enraged Nikias and may have contributed to Garrett’s ouster.

But despite the dire consequences of NCAA-cited “lack of institutional control”, at least one prominent alumnus of USC is sticking up for Garrett in the aftermath of his ouster.

The LOS ANGELES TIMES published this letter from Lakers Owner Jerry Buss last Friday: Read more…

Jackson Denies He’s ‘Been Told’ Of 60% Pay Cut

Earlier today I noted a Monday D.C. radio report that indicated Phil Jackson has already been told by Lakers Owner Jerry Buss that if he wishes to return to coach the team next season, he will have to take a 60 percent pay cut from his current salary.

Phil Jackson wince

During a Monday appearance on WTEM-AM in D.C., ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said:

“I was told yesterday that Phil Jackson’s been told that not only will he not be making $12 million dollars next year, it’s going to be a $5 million dollar cap on his salary.”

Before Game 2 of the Suns-Lakers playoff game on Wednesday night, Jackson was asked about Wilbon’s claim. Read more…

Expiration Date: McCourt’s Taste Lacks Shelf Life

I don’t normally post items like this, but a very, very reliable source was at the same restaurant as Dodgers Owner Frank McCourt last night. McCourt, who is going through a well-publicized divorce from estranged wife Jamie, was apparently on a date.

Frank McCourt Dodgers Owner hit in head with foul ball FAIL

(McCourt’s Dodgers only MLB team with ball security detail)

My source’s email about the evening was too good not to post, so indulge me.

Last night I saw Frank McCourt with a woman at Pecorino’s in Brentwood.

She was rather unimpressive but it was clear they were on a date and were quite affectionate with each other. She was about 35 and very multicultural. Asian/Latina mix. Looked like she could have been one of Jerry Buss‘ girls - 15 years ago. Seemed to have a lot of miles on her.

Jerry Buss Walk Of Fame Read more…

Phil Jax Can’t Stomach Elderly Buss’ Teen ‘Dates’

Acclaimed author Roland Lazenby, who wrote probably the two best books about the Lakers ever published, recently blogged of concern Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss had about 75-year-old Lakers Owner Jerry Buss.

Jerry Buss Is A Lecher

As for those teen-aged girls, Buss has long dated hundreds of them, usually only once or twice each, and then collected their photos in albums. He has not been above boasting about his conquests to some media and associates.

Buss and his elderly friends gather in his owner’s box at Lakers games with their young dates, a sight that’s increasingly hard for Jeanie Buss, the owner’s daughter and Phil Jackson’s girlfriend, to stomach.

One Lakers insider contends that only in Los Angeles could a team owner get away with such antics and basically get a free pass by the media.

Informed fans in this town have always known about the Hefner-esque lifestyle of Jerry Buss, which is particularly disturbing for some as he entertains his anonymous teenie du jour in the owner’s box during Lakers games.

Jerry Buss Walk Of Fame

Though I’d never heard the creepy part about Buss collecting “their photos in an album.”

While it isn’t hard to imagine that Jeanie and Phil are turned off by an elderly man seducing hosting barely legal girls at his place of business, their concern could also be viewed as ironic and perhaps even a little absurd.

Jerry Buss

Read more…

Report: Jerry Buss Paid Kiffin UT Contract Buyout

Chris Huston is a former USC football sports information dept. staffer who now publishes the bible of Heisman Trophy-tracking websites:

Jerry Buss at USC football game

(Buss gave $7.5M to USC in  2008, reportedly paid Kiffin UT buyout)

His weekly Heisman Pundit Poll is nationally-syndicated and features these main media panel members: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.

I’ve spoken to Chris many times and dude knows his stuff. Today he posted some previously unreported info on the Lane Kiffin hire, along with observations from the perspective of a true USC insider.

Read more…

Why USC Was Left No Choice But To Take Kiffin

Knowing NCAA sanctions are likely looming for USC and that Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron were prominent members of the Trojans staff during the time some of those possible violations occurred, to outsiders it must look insane that USC hired Kiffin as head coach yesterday.

Ed Orgeron Lane Kiffin

(Orgeron was already on board as Kiffin caught last plane out)

But in the context of the coaching search USC completed before hiring Kiffin, the Trojans had no choice but to hire a guy almost universally despised not only in Knoxville, but inside USC’s Heritage Hall.

To clarify the hire, understand that USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett was only tangentially involved in the process. The primary movers in getting the deal done were search committee members Ed Roski, Pat Haden and Lakers Owner Jerry Buss.

Jerry Buss Ed Roski Pat Haden

(USC Coach Search Committee: Buss, Roski, Haden)

Roski and Haden are also members of the USC Board of Trustees, with Roski the Chair. Roski is also the guy fronting L.A.’s bid to bring the NFL back. Buss is a prominent USC booster. I only last night found out that the Lakers Owner was involved in the coaching hire.

Read more…

Lakers Jerry Buss Visits Bunny Ranch ‘Every Year’

In 2005 and 2007 HBO aired documentaries on brothels run by a guy named Dennis Hof. The docos covered Hof’s ‘Bunny Ranch’ in Nevada, which is a legal bordello.

Jerry Buss Bunny Ranch

(Perfectly legal. *High Five*)

Hof guested on Jorge Sedano’s morning show on 790 The Ticket in Miami today, and had a not-too-shocking revelation about a certain NBA Owner.

Jerry Buss visiting Bunny Ranch, bad for the Lakers, NBA image?

View Results

Transcript of his comments after the jump. Read more…