Los Angeles Lakers president Jeanie Buss staved off an effort by her brothers, Jim and Johnny, to overthrow her as the franchise’s controlling owner, according to Nathan Fenno and Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times.
Her brothers planned to hold a secret meeting next week to elect a new board of directors for the team, according to The Times. That meeting would not have included Jeanie Buss. To remain the Lakers’ controlling owner, she must be a member of the board.
The family trust that controls the team can elect three of the board’s five members, according to The Times. The older brothers argued they had the majority votes (2-1) to elect new directors for the team, according to ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne.
The trust, however, states Jeanie Buss is the controlling owner and as controlling owner, according to Shelburne, she must also be a director. Therefore, removing her as a director would violate the trust’s provision.
Jeanie's lawyers filed a temporary restraining order arguing that Johnny and Jim were acting in breach of their fiduciary duties as trustees— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) March 3, 2017
To prevent the meeting, Jeanie Buss’ attorneys were granted a temporary restraining order in court on Friday. Jim and Johnny Buss later withdrew the request to elect a new board in court.
“This is no doubt the beginning and not the end of the game-playing,” said Jeanie Buss’ attorney, Adam Streisand, according to The Los Angeles Times. “They don’t have a legal leg to stand on. This is a legal strategy doomed for failure.”
Update: As reported by Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times, there was a document signed that put Jeanie Buss back as controlling owner late on Thursday but Jeanie’s team is unsure the validity of that document as not all shareholders have signed it.
Attorney for Buss brothers says they signed document late Thursday reelecting Jeanie Buss as controlling owner of Lakers.— Nathan Fenno (@nathanfenno) March 3, 2017
Jeanie Buss became the Lakers’ controlling owner after her father, Jerry Buss, passed away in 2013. His majority stake in the franchise was split evenly among his six kids.
Jeanie Buss re-assigned Jim from his position as vice president of basketball operations in February, after he failed to bring the franchise back to playoff contention on the timetable he set for himself years ago. She also fired longtime general manager Mitch Kupchak
Instead, Jeanie Buss replaced both by hiring Lakers legend and five-time champion Magic Johnson as team president. Johnson has publicly chided Jim Buss throughout his tenure as a decision-maker in Los Angeles.