Despite being the most popular basketball organization in the world, the Los Angeles Lakers are, for all intents and purposes, a giant mom and pop shop. The team was purchased by Dr. Jerry Buss in 1979, and since then, it has been run by Dr. Buss and his family.
Jeanie became the controlling owner after her father’s death in 2013. On the surface, the fact that the team is run by a family can be a challenge. After all, adding a family dynamic to the already stressful, high-stakes world of professional sports can be a recipe for disaster.
Moreover, it wasn’t that long ago that two of Jeanie’s brothers, Jim and Johnny, attempted to oust her just months after she fired Jim from his position as the team’s vice president of basketball operations.
Still, Jeanie explained she believes having a family run the team has its advantages, via Jonathon Diamond in the Los Angeles Business Journal:
Our record should speak for itself. Aside from the last few years, we’ve been a competitive team. I don’t think being a family business has held us back. It’s important for athletes to know who they work for and who they’re representing, important to have that connection – who’s at the top, who’s putting this all together?
On one hand, she is correct in saying that it’s important that athletes know who they work for. A family environment can be welcoming, and can create a positive atmosphere that causes players to buy in on several levels. Being part of the Lakers family could -and should- mean something.
That said, discord or instability at the top, whether it’s due a family matter or not, will always be seen as a negative by players. They want an organization with stability that has a clear path to winning.
With Jeanie now firmly in charge and Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka in the fold, the hope is that the Lakers finally have that again.