Jeanie Buss has revised her new book Laker Girl and talks about that night when Phil got the phone call from Mitch Kupchak, and how it made her feel. (NOTE: This is only an excerpt of an excerpt, but you can read more here).
After we went to bed, the house phone rang at 11:30. 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. He said they know they are going to take a bit of a PR hit, but he thinks it will blow over in a month."
"He said it will blow over in a month?" I repeated in disbelief.I was still trying to wake up.
I was stunned. I said to Phil, "They came to you. You were not looking for the job. I cannot believe this."
I knew Phil wasn't going to argue with them.
"That was really odd," he said in the quiet of our bedroom as he replayed the conversation in his mind.
My first thought was, What was the rush? Why did they have to make a decision tonight?
I didn't have much time to reflect because my cell phone started going crazy.
By the next day, stories began coming out in the media that Phil wanted part ownership of the team, had demanded a ridiculous salary, and had insisted on not traveling with the team on some of our road trips.
None of that was true. . . .
Two days after Phil got that phone call, I was at the gym when I started crying so hysterically that they sent me home.
My sister, Janie, knew the whole situation was tearing me apart, but I don't think anybody else in my family understood how much it had hurt me. It physically hurt me.
The sequence of events — Phil almost coming back and then being told someone else was better for the job — practically destroyed me. It almost took away my passion for this job and this game. It felt like I had been stabbed in the back. It was a betrayal. I was devastated.
I felt that I got played. Why did they have to do that? 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.
How do you do that to your sister? How do you do that to Phil Jackson?
I hope the flirtation with Phil wasn't just a PR stunt. I still can't get my head around the whole story.
"The decision came down to Dad, Mitch, and I all agreeing," Jim claims, "that D'Antoni was a better fit for this group of personnel."
The story going around is that my dad pushed for 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.
I know my father would back my brother in whatever decision Jim wanted to make. That was exactly how my dad was with the decisions I had to make in regard to business matters.
My dad made it clear to the entire family that he put me in charge of the team's business operations and my brother was in charge of the basketball decisions. He wanted that structure in place to carry us forward when he was no longer running the show.
What is not clear to me is why, if they had their doubts about Phil being physically able to coach, they hired a guy who was still recovering after having his knee replaced? D'Antoni wasn't physically prepared to hit the ground running with the season already underway.
Despite my brother's desire to open up the channels of communication between us, we still rarely if ever discuss basketball. That should be okay because my dad was confident the franchise could be run that way. But I want my brother to realize that I'm not the enemy.
However, it's also scary because it goes to show how truly at odds these two people running the organization may really be. It seems that Jeanie has been able to put most of the bad blood from this incident behind her, but not all the way. She commented earlier this summer that it's hard for her to be held responsible for decisions that are made in meetings that she isn't even a part of.
Anyone in her position would feel the same, but it's just always nice to hear some of the truth.