The Los Angeles Lakers held an impromptu Monday afternoon press conference to reveal some of the details of the passing of owner Jerry Buss and answer questions about the future of the organization. Buss family spokesman Bob Steiner and longtime Lakers spokesman John Black held the press conference, reminiscing about the longtime Lakers owner and addressing the roles of both Jimmy and Jeanie Buss going forward.
Questions about a potential sale of the team immediately came up, and both Steiner and Black firmly stated that the team would remain in the family, with both Jimmy and Jeanie continuing in their current roles. "The future of the organization will remain unchanged," said Black. "Dr. Buss had set it up, years in advance he had planned for continuation of the team to remain with the family. For the past several years, Jim Buss has been running the basketball operations working in conjunction with general manager Mitch Kupchak. Jeannie Buss has been running the business operations, for I think over 15 years. So as far as the running and operations of the team, that will be unchanged."
Jeanie will continue to represent the team at the NBA's Board of Governors meetings, while Jimmy continues as the head of basketball operations. Steiner and Black refused to name a singular ownership head going forward, and said that the team is now held in a trust benefiting all six of Buss's children. Steiner indicated that no individual child could sell the team, or a portion of it. "The entity cannot be split," he said. "The heirs do not own the team individually. It would have to be a collective. His controlling ownership of the team is now owned by a trust for the benefit of the six children."
It's been an eventful year of basketball moves for the Lakers, but Steiner said that Dr. Buss continued to weigh in on major decisions. "He absolutely did not stop in a leadership position. He was more and more giving responsibility to Jeannie and Jimmy -- he did that, in preparation, for a complete passing of the torch but major decisions were still his."
Steiner repeatedly stated that it was amazing he had lasted this long. Both spokesman said Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Steven Nash had all visited Buss in the hospital during his battle with cancer. While kidney failure was listed as the official cause of the death, the family did use the yearlong battle with cancer to prepare for the eventual passing. "The family's doing fine," said Steiner. "It's a testament to his determination and will that he lasted this long. And the family certainly knew for awhile that his passing was imminent so they had a lot of time to get used to it as you possibly can." Quotes are from the NBAtv telecast.