The more we learn of the Mike Brown hiring the more it becomes clear Jim Buss is hell bent on doing things his way. With all due respect to the Buss family, they’re failing during this transitional period.
Replacing Phil Jackson was always going to be a difficult if not impossible task. Never mind the two fists full of rings and the acknowledgement of PJ being the greatest coach in NBA history. There is much more that links Jackson to the Lakers.
Phil has developed a strong bond with Kobe Bryant over the years as he has with all his players. Severing those ties was never going to be easy. Naturally Phil also had a close camaraderie with his staff as well. Brian Shaw, Jim Cleamons, Tex Winter, Frank Hamblen and even the departed Kurt Rambis all owe a great debt to PJ. Then there is the dicey issue of Phil’s relationship with Jeanie Buss. But we’re not going to go there. Let’s just stick to hoops.
From a basketball standpoint Jim Buss has been horrendous in his handling of the changing of the guard. While the Lakers segue into the Mike Brown era the franchise is also undergoing a metamorphosis at the top. Dr. Buss is taking a step back and his son Jim is taking a giant leap forward.
So far Jim Buss is off on the wrong foot.
The entire world knows the Lakers belong to the Buss family. No need to plaster that atop a flashing billboard in the middle of L.A. Live. However Jim Buss appears determined to remind everyone just who is in charge here.
Jim Buss didn’t take many interviews while looking for a new head coach. In fact some reports indicate he sat down with three candidates at most while others speculate he sat with Brown and Brown alone.
All the rumor mongering aside, we know for a fact that Jim Buss failed to contact Kobe Bryant during the process.
Now nobody is saying the Kobe should have had a hand in picking his next coach. But being that Bryant is the face of the franchise he’s a least owed a phone call prior to the announcement. Jim Buss admitted his mistake but that means little after the fact.
As if Kobe getting the cold shoulder weren’t enough, we now know that B-Shaw got the same treatment. Shaw divulged as much to Mason & Ireland in a recent interview.
“I wasn’t really told anything. Unfortunately, I found about not getting the job and who was hired for the job on ESPN. I didn’t really talk to anyone for about three weeks after that.”
However Jim Buss wants to go about his business is going to determine the future of this franchise. While I can understand the need to assert oneself in a position of leadership there is a certain respect level that must be maintained.
By failing to communicate with his best player Jim Buss has shown his selfish side. By failing to let Shaw know he wasn’t going to get the gig, Jim Buss has shown his inexperience.
Forget for a second that Shaw has been a fixture in the Laker organization for years now. That alone merits a five minute phone call to at least thank him for his service. How about the fact that Shaw was a candidate for the head coaching job? A job that he had a lot of backing for in the locker room. As it is in any business, common courtesy dictates that communicating with a potential candidate at every step of the process is owed if not required.
Jim Buss knew there was plenty of love for B-Shaw from the players. So instead of being a man and facing the fire, he did everything behind closed doors.
It is painfully clear that Jim Buss has a lot to learn about running a franchise. He can try the my way or the highway approach if he likes but that could be a dead end if he can’t find a healthy balance. Buss would be wise to learn from his early mistakes. Nothing guarantees future success. Dr. Buss built a lasting legacy but Jim Buss could be the black sheep of the family if he doesn’t learn to be a more effective communicator.
After all, this was going to be a tough road to walk as it is. No need to make things even more confusing by failing to keep all the involved parties informed. Unfortunately he’s already set a very poor standard. A standard Shaw saw all too clearly on his way out of Los Angeles.
“For whatever reason, there was a glitch in communication. … I’ve always had a great relationship and open line of communication with Mitch Kupchak so I don’t think it came from there. We’ve always been on good terms and are still on good terms. I understand in his position there’s only so much that he can do even. He has people over his head that he has to follow directions. … Definitely there’s some room for improvement in terms of how … people are dealt with.”