His daughter Jeanie Buss was interviewed today on ESNLA710, and gave a pretty revealing answer when asked about Dwight Howard leaving the City of Angels.
It’s telling not so much in why Howard left, because that ship has sailed and people have moved on; what’s telling is how she views the future of the team with her dad out of the picture. Jeanie said:
"[Dwight and Jerry] would've probably had a better relationship if my dad hadn't been sick. When it came time to try to convince Dwight to stay, we lost the best closer in the business in Dr. Buss. Putting up the billboard maybe wasn't the right thing. But we maybe have to learn to do things differently because Dr. Buss isn't here anymore. People said [of the billboards], 'Oh, that's not the Laker way.' Well, the Laker way isn't the same, because Dr. Buss isn't here."
Everyone knew that with Dr. Buss gone, things would be different for the Lakers in terms of bringing big name talent to the team, but the way things have changed has been pretty dramatic.
Howard, a big name player, choosing to leave despite the fact that the Lakers could give him more money was extremely telling. However, there are still players out there who long to play for this team, like Nick Young who took a pay cut just to wear a purple and gold jersey.
There’s no way to know if it’s Jim Buss turning prospects off, despite the fact that that popular opinion is Jeanie should be running everything. Certainly, hiring Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson and keeping him on after a very lackluster season doesn’t look good to potential prospects.
It will certainly take time, but hopefully not too long, for non-Lakers fans to regain trust and put esteem in the brand again.