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…

We Were All Wrong About This Guy (Sorry Mitch)

Thanks in part to Kobe Bryant, Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak has been the most maligned man in the 213 for some time now. Most of the criticism has been deserved. The drafts, trades and acquisitons by Kupchak since taking over for Jerry West have been largely dreadful, and have set the Lakers into steady decline.

But Kupchak (and Jim Buss, to be fair) has stuck to his guns on Andrew Bynum. Considering the way Kobe called the kid out over the summer, Kupchak’s intractable, untradable stance on the former first rounder is astonishing. And as it turns out, correct.

In honor of all that, we bring you, via WITH LEATHER, Andrew Bynum in all his f-bomb dropping glory.

UPDATE: Man, this really sucks. Poor kid.

Kobe Bryant Calls Owner Buss An Idiot On Audio Tape

KOBE QUOTE CAUGHT ON AUDIO - “DR. BUSS IS AN IDIOT“: For those of you outside the 310 area code, move along - nothing to see here (we know Kobe fatigue has set in).

For us Angelenos who are still relishing Kobe Bryant exposing the absurdly incompetent Lakers front office, INSIDE HOOPS is the first to release a transcript of an audio tape attributed to Kobe Bryant “in early June.

Jerry Buss

The highlight of the tape has Bryant saying “Dr. Buss is an idiot“. Complete transcript of the audio:”Fan: Please tell us your staying!
Kobe: Huh?
Fan: Please tell us your staying.
Kobe: Get a Bulls uniform, fellas.
Fan: Are you serious?
Kobe: Yup.
Fan: Really!?!
Kobe: Yup.
Fan: It’s not worth it Kobe, you got to stay.
Kobe: Dr. Buss is an idiot.
Fan: That’s true, good luck man.
Kobe: Alright, thanks man.
Fan: See ya buddy.

Mitch Kupchak Jim Buss

Dr. Buss is an idiot? Sounds a little harsh, until you examine the Lakers’ last 10 first-round picks. And the current two-headed jackass rodeo running basketball operations.

Kobe Bryant Lashes Out On Website And Radio At Lakers Inaction And Deception

KOBE BRYANT ON LAKERS ORGANIZATION - “IT’S A MESS“: After torching the Lakers organization on his website and likewise on ESPN Radio in L.A. (audio) today, Kobe Bryant unleashed his strongest criticism of the team’s front office during an interview on the Lakers radio play-by-play home: KLAC-AM. (Click here for entire interview)


Why is Bryant talking now? The flashpoint came in a piece by Mark Heisler of the LOS ANGELES TIMES today, in which an anonymous Lakers “insider” claimed that Bryant was to blame for Shaq departing the team.

KLAC Petros And Money

Bryant appeared on KLAC’s “Petros and Money Show” and said of the front office: “That place is a mess. What I’m speaking about is, I want us to get to a point where we’re contending for titles. It’s not about who has control. Now they want me to use me as a scapegoat with this Laker insider thing. Don’t throw me under the bus for something I did not say or do. I haven’t heard anything from anybody since my exit meeting. And I found out like you guys found out about Jim Buss dissing Phil on the radio.

On the perception he pushed Shaq out of L.A.: “This is what really pisses me off. I assumed it was media guys talking about it or people assuming. Now I read this that a Laker insider says I ran Shaq off. I took it in stride the first time. Now I’m not taking a bullet season for something I did not say. I had nothing to do with that.

Kobe Bryant Ronaldinho

I spoke with Phil today. I’m training, I still get up at 4:30am. Now the tone has switched and now I have serious trust issue. (Today) I asked Phil, ‘when you left in ‘04, what did they tell you?’. What he told me was that they didnt want to bring him (Phil) back because they wanted scale back and put in a long term plan. Dr. Buss wants to trade Shaq because he doesnt want to fork out $30M per year.

That’s drastically different from what they told me. They said NOTHING to me about a long term plan. Absolutely nothing. Now I just found out about this today (from Phil). This had been the worst day, I have a headache. I love this city, my wife’s from here.

Asia Kobe Haircut

Other ruminations from Bryant: “They traded my man, Caron Butler, he and I had been training together all summer. And then I get a call that he’s been traded. They called me and asked me what I thought, and I said ‘why are you asking me now? he’s already been traded.’

I look at what Kevin Garnett is going through in Minnesota. I don’t want us to go through that by any means.

Enough is enough, that’s why I’ve been very vocal. The truth is coming out. Lakers fan are finally hearing the truth.

Jerry Buss Is A Lecher

Meanwhile, Bryant also busted Buss, who coincidentally was arrested for DUI this morning, and the rest of the Lakers front office on his website on KSPN-AM.

Big Show

Bryant earlier today to KSPN-AM’s Steve Mason and John Ireland (click here for entire interview): “A Laker insider is saying I ran Shaq out? That’s tough for me to deal with. I’m beyond furious. That’s an understatement. They know I had nothing to do with it. Whoever that Laker insider is, I know what Jerry Buss said to me and the direction he wanted to take the organization. I kept quiet and took a bullet for them last time.

Laker fans in Memphis 1/9/07

Bryant also made it clear during the radio interview that he seriously considered leaving the Lakers for the Clippers or Chicago Bulls after his contract ran out with the club in 2004, only re-signing with the team after assurances that a plan was in place to win immediately.

But Bryant now says he was deceived by Buss and his minions, and that they instead planned on a five-year rebuilding plan: “Before I signed, I didn’t know about a five year plan. It was all about winning right now, being aggressive. That’s the reason I re-signed. I was willing to go to the Clippers who had a good team, good young talent. And Chicago. I didnt know we were on a 5-6 year plan, I had no idea about that.

Kobe Bryant Asia Merchandise

Lakers management has been widely criticized for its inactivity over the past three years, as impact players like Baron Davis, Carlos Boozer and Ron Artest were all made available.

When asked about that trio of players in particular, Bryant said that all three had contacted him about joining the Lakers, but that team management wasn’t interested in each case: “All those guys called me first. Baron, Boozer, Artest. But they (Lakers front office) always had a reason not to do a deal“.

Kobe Bryant with girl

Despite his profound discontent, Bryant isn’t ready just yet to demand a trade, instead ending his diatribe with, “If I want a trade I’ll ask for one. I want to work this stuff out. I want to be Laker.

Kurt Rambis Slams Jim Buss On KLAC AM Radio Roggin Simers Squared

JIM BUSS BASHING NOW NOT LIMITED TO FAMILY MEMBERS: More of the bizarro dysfunction that is the Los Angeles Lakers’ front office was on display this morning, and this time it involved former Laker player and current Assistant Coach Kurt Rambis.

Kurt Rambis Shirt

Rambis, who often makes it plain that he is a Phil Jackson loyalist, guested on KLAC-AM’s “Roggin and Simers Squared” and took the opportunity to defend Jackson on multiple fronts.

KLAC Roggin Simers Squared

During the interview, Rambis denied that Jackson was ever fired by Jerry Buss (”Phil wasn’t fired the last time he left the Lakers“), which is fact that is disputed by Jackson’s girlfriend Jeanie Buss (the daughter of owner Jerry, who also defended Jackson last week on the same show).

Jeanie Buss Nude Playboy Photo Picture

And then things got really good, as Rambis lit into defacto team President Jim Buss, who recently criticized Jackson on KLAC-AM’s “Loose Cannons” midday show.

T.J Simers Fred Roggin

Rambis: “Jim Buss was puffing up his chest a little bit and trying to take charge and make his voice heard and make his voice known. But some of the comments he said (about Jackson) … flat out weren’t right. Like when he said Phil doesn’t know how to work with young players or coach young players. We’re working with our young guys.

Kurt Rambis

We’re working with our young guys constantly on a daily basis to improve them. But Jim doesn’t know that because he doesn’t come to practice. So he doesn’t see the amount of time we spend working with the young ballplayers.

(Audio of entire Kurt Rambis interview on KLAC-AM - Buss comments begin at 6:30)

Jeanie Buss Slams Brother Jim Buss For Criticism Of Boyfriend Phil Jackson Doesnt Know If Jackson Will Stay With Lakers

JEANIE BUSS SLAMS BROTHER JIM FOR BOYFRIEND BASH: It’s well-known (at least here in L.A.) that the son of Jerry Buss, Jim, has already essentially taken over the basketball operation of the L.A. Lakers from his father.

Jeanie Buss Nude Playboy Photo Picture

Last Friday Jim Buss guested on KLAC-AM’s “Loose Cannons” midday show and said that he didn’t appreciate Phil Jackson criticizing Laker players in the media (read: players that Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak had acquired).

KLAC Roggin Simers Squared

Meanwhile, Phil Jackson’s girlfriend also happens to be the sister of Jim Buss - Jeanie - who is heavily involved in the Lakers business operation.

Jim Buss Los Angeles Lakers

She appeared on KLAC-AM’s “Roggin & Simers Squared” this morning and took the opportunity to slam her brother for his criticism of her boyfriend - in more ways than one: “I was disappointed, my brother was on this station last week and he talked about his disappointment in Phil, and Phil calling out players in the media and the fact that he didn’t appreciate that, which I thought was interesting because that’s what he was doing to Phil in the media (on the show).If he doesn’t appreciate it (critizing club personnel in the media), then why is he doing it to Phil? Phil has such an open door policy to my family that any question that my brother would have, Phil would welcome sitting down and talking to him about it. It was kind of surprising to hear it on a radio station as opposed to him just sitting down with Phil.

Also surprising was Jeanie Buss’ response when asked by Tracy Simers if Jackson will sign a contract extension with the club after his deal expires following next season: “I don’t know. Maybe they’re not happy with him? I think he’s done a good job. He wants to be here.

PhilJackson Jeanie Buss

Audio link of complete Jeanie Buss interview on KLAC-AM’s “Roggin & Simers Squared”.