It Keeps Getting Worse For The Lakers

Sports Editor

Four straight terrible seasons, four years out of the playoffs, four years when I' ve been writing about the decline of one of the NBA' s greatest franchises. It seemed like it couldn' t get worse for the Lakers but it has. The Buss family is in turmoil. In a story by ESPN' s Ramona Shelbourne, Jeanie Buss' younger sister Janie says Johnny and Jim Buss want to sell their shares of the Lakers.

' That would leave the rest of us as minorities,"Janie Buss said. Six of Jerry Buss' siblings are current owners of 66 percent of the Lakers, a team valued at $3 billion. An anual meeting to elect four Laker board members is coming up, Jim and Johnny have reportedly submitted four names, Jeanie and three others. In doing so they deny they' re trying to reduce her power. "But we' d all be minorities," said Janie. There was activity on the Buss family feud last week in Los Angeles Superior Court and a trial date has been set for May 15. Before he died in 2013 Jerry Buss left four trusts, all making it clear Jeanie would be Governor of the Lakers.

This family feud is far from finished. Lawyers are involved. A court date has been set for May 15. It is believed Jeanie is likely to retain her authority with the Lakers but this episode has caused her a lot of grief. She hired Magic Johnson as an advisor to her but just two weeks later she elevated his role at the expense of her brother Jim. Jeamie said in a court document that Jim was unfit to run the Lakers' basketball operation. Jeanie contends that in Johnson' s brief role as an asdvisor he wasn' t told that Jim and general manager Mitch Kupchak were working out potential future players without Johnson' s knowledge. At that point she apparently decided to replace Jim realizing he wouldn' t work with Johnson. The Lakers are currently on a nine-game losing streak. After losing to Dallas for the 14th straight

time in recent seasons Tuesday they were scheduled to play the Suns Thursday in Phoenix What will all this trouble within the family do to Johnson' s attempt to bring the Lakers back to prominence? Well, I can tell you NBA free agents will be watching this drama with considerable interest.In the last four years it' s been only a shortage of elite players. But this is much worse. I' m sure Jerry Buss never imagined that putting his family members in charge of the Lakers would result in utter chaos.Aftr Jeanie hired Johnson in late February Jim Buss was quiet for a few weeks but then he went into action. Since then the Lakers have been the hottest story in sports. But not because they' re winning. With their eighth straight loss Tuesday in Dallas their record became 19-45.

Luke Walton has declined to discuss the family battle, telling reporters he is coaching the team and isn' t familiar enough with the controversy to comment. As if the Lakers don' t have enough troubles the NBA sent a memo recently asking the public address announcer to stop telling fans the Lakers have the most wins in NBA history. I listened closely at the next game and sure enough Lawrence Tanter kept saying the Lakers have 16 NBA championships but he didn' t follow as he usually does saying they have the most wins in the league' s history. That' s because the Boston Celtics passed them recently.


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