Phil Jackson's long goodbye to L.A.

But it's just not true. And the ones who know that the best are his own children. Dr. Buss didn't just bequeath the Lakers to his children. He spent a long time auditioning and testing them for roles within the franchise. All the Buss kids apprenticed for a number of years, selling tickets at the Forum or running the minor franchises in the Buss empire -- the WNBA's Sparks, the L.A. Strings of World Team Tennis or the L.A. Lazers indoor soccer team.

It meant something to him that he'd made his children earn the roles he left to them. It meant something to him to leave the Lakers to them. All six of them.

If he'd wanted to involve Johnson or West or Jackson, he would've. Which is why down to the very last moment, even as influential courtesans and fans lobbied her to stage a coup, Jeanie Buss stayed silent and remained loyal to her father's wishes. She believes that's what he wanted. And she believes in supporting her brother Jim and general manager Mitch Kupchak no matter what, even if it means her fiancée is destined to leave and live in another city.

"I enjoy hearing from the fans, but they have to understand I have a job already," Jeanie Buss said in an interview with ESPNLA 710 last July. "I can't take on anymore. This was something my dad set up, and I think it's important we move forward with what he put into place. And like I said, I have a great relationship with all my brothers."

Jim Buss believes in the plan and himself, too. Because his father did.

"If he didn't think I was capable of doing this, I guarantee he wouldn't have put me here," Jim Buss told ESPN in an interview last summer. "He would have arranged something else.

"But over years of dealing with him on every level and every contract and every negotiation and every thought of building a philosophy to win championships ... My dad trusted me. I know for a fact that if he didn't believe in what I was doing, he would not have just said, 'Well you're my son. Here you go.'

"No. That's not how I got this job."

Jim and Jeanie actually discussed this very moment many times with their father before he passed away. He cautioned both that this will be difficult.

"He always said, 'You have to have a shell and be able to repel water because you're going to get pelted,'" Jim Buss said. "And I said, 'Dad, I have no problem with that as long as I believe that you believe in me and we believe in this philosophy.' "


You can believe in something and still question it when things get hard. And right now, things are really, really hard.

Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson publicly questioned Jim and Jeanie on Wednesday, as hope of bringing Jackson back out of the shadows waned. There wasn't much time left on the shot clock; why not try a 35-footer to beat the buzzer?

As they expressed their concerns -- within minutes of each other, actually -- it felt like something was afoot.

But there was silence inside the palace. There were no conversations between Jackson's representatives and the Lakers. Jim never called Phil. Jeanie never called Jim. The process simply played out, with Jackson making his own decision to leave in the end and all of us still wondering what he truly wanted.

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