You’ve got to feel at least a little bit bad for Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss. They had dated since 1999, and had been engaged since 2013, and it really seemed like it was their NBA positions that forced them to call off their engagement in December.
They cited “professional obligations" and "geographic distance"—both of which were related to Jackson’s role as president of the Knicks and Buss’ role as president (and part-owner) of the Lakers. It just seems like a sad reason for a committed relationship to end.
In the wake of their called-off engagement, new details continue to emerge. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne has been all over the story. Her latest report sheds some light into what could perhaps be causing some of the current Buss family drama.
First, a little bit of context: Jackson was almost hired as the Lakers’ coach in 2012. In fact, he left a meeting with L.A. GM Mitch Kupchak and VP of basketball operations Jim Buss with the impression he had received a job offer. The day after that meeting, the Lakers hired Mike D’Antoni.
Needless to say, that wasn't easy for Jackson and Jeanie Buss' relationship.
“Jeanie Buss blamed her brother for forcing her to choose between the Lakers and the man she loved,” Shelburne writes. “Long distance was far more of a strain on Buss and Jackson’s relationship than either of them anticipated, particularly because, due to the NBA’s policy against conflicts of interest, the couple couldn’t discuss anything related to their teams. If they ever decided to marry, the other NBA owners would have to approve it.
“Each year that went by, Buss and Jackson grew further apart. Although Buss could’ve resigned her post as Lakers president to live with and marry Jackson in New York, that was never going to happen. She was far too proud of her career for that, and she always saw the Lakers as a civic treasure for which she was responsible.”
This might partially explain why Jeanie fired Jim Buss and Kupchak last month. The current Lakers saga is complicated. Jeanie sought a temporary restraining order because her brothers were trying to take over her role as controlling owner. Yeah, things have gotten really messy.
And you thought your family had drama.