Mitch Kupchak says that Jim Buss has taken away his authority.
Jim Buss, executive VP and part-owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, has come under a lot of fire since taking control of the team. Part of it is natural; there’s always a certain amount of heat on NBA owners and executives. Part of it comes from the high bar set by his father, Jerry Buss, the legendary former owner who largely shaped the team into the successful franchise it became, and part of it comes from some frankly questionable decisions that have been made since the younger Buss took charge.
Lakers legend Magic Johnson had a few things to say about Jim Buss, going on ESPN’s First Take to vent about Buss on Feb. 10.
“Jim is trying to do it himself and trying to prove to everybody that this was the right decision that [his] dad gave [him] the reins,” Johnson said. “He’s not consulting anybody that can help him achieve his goals and dreams to win an NBA championship.”
“If Jim would say, ‘OK, Mitch. You run the show,’ I think it would be a lot better for the Lakers, too. Mitch Kupchak knows what he’s doing. He’s great. He’s smart. He’s hard-working. He’s at every practice. I think the fans would feel good [if he ran the team] as well,” Johnson added.
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This came despite Johnson’s claim last year that he was going to “stop complaining” about the team he starred for in the ’80s and ’90s.
Despite Johnson’s claims, there’s no real indication that Kupchak’s role with the team is in fact diminished, though it may be. Kupchak, for his part, denies that Buss has lessened his authority.
“I have the same authority that I had with Dr. Buss,” Kupchak said. “Jerry West had the same authority with Dr. Buss and I’ve got that same authority with Jimmy. Jimmy and I work very closely together and he does not make decisions in a vacuum.
“For some reason he gets a lot of the criticism and maybe that just comes along with a transition from an owner like Dr. Buss. But that’s not fair.”
Of course, when that’s your boss you sort of have to say things like that. However, despite the current dire state of the team, there’s no reason to be alarmed just yet. Yes, Buss may have made some inexplicable decisions (the Kobe Bryant extension comes to mind), but it’s not like he’s James Dolan.
And if it does get that bad, Lakers fans won’t have long to wait for a regime change; Buss himself declared that if the team isn’t competitive by 2016-17, he will resign his post.
Lakers fans just hope it doesn’t come to that. And maybe it won’t; this is a man who once tried to become a professional jockey despite standing 6’2″. You can’t say he’s not determined.
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