Jeanie, 'Mother of Dragons': the woman who resurrected the Lakers

The daughter of the mythical Doctor Buss took command in the Lakers and led to the revolution in a drifting franchise. Kobe Bryant supported their cause.


On his television show, Rich Eisen told Kobe Bryant that Jeanie Buss, the owner of the Lakers and daughter of the legendary Doctor Jerry Buss, the architect of the Showtime Lakers, had acknowledged that the former player sent him a message on the comparing her to the Khaleesi (photo montage included), the Mother of Dragons from Game of Thrones. Kobe confirmed: "Yes, I sent her a gif of the Khaleesi steering a thousand ships with Tyrion by her side and I told her that's what she was. When we talked about the decisions she had to make, I told her that at some point she had than to embrace her role as Khaleesi, to be the Mother of Dragons. Claim what was rightfully hers and go for it. So when LeBron's arrival was confirmed it seemed like the ideal thing to send him that gif ".

The journalist Sam Amick recovered that story in The Athletic to draw a perfect portrait of the upheaval that returned the Lakers to their essence and allowed, in the summer of 2018, the arrival of LeBron. A key section in the resurrection of a franchise adrift and in which Jeanie Buss was the main protagonist, with the advice (correct, in sight) in an important moment from Kobe Bryant, one of those who saw in Jeanie a the perfect heir. Also his father, who gave him the last voice in decisions when he was about to die (in 2013) .

At the halfway point of the 2016-17 season, Jeanie carried out the coup that removed her brother Jim and long-time general manager Mitch Kupchak from the franchise, also seized sporting power and gave the keys to the castle to Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka. DeMarcus Cousins had just left for the Pelicans without the Lakers arriving in time to bid after months in which they had not been able to attract Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony or LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency and in which players like Dwight Howard despite the interest of the franchise to retain them. The Never Seen in LA Jeanie decided it was time. Among other reasons, because the countdown had begun: LeBron had already been champion with the Cavaliers, a key step for him to lead to his second outing from Ohio, and he was less than a year and a half away from being a free agent.

Jeanie Buss, the Daenerys of the Lakers who has worked in sports management since she was 19 years old (she is 59) and who grew up watching her father build an empire (in 1979 she bought the Lakers, the NHL Kings and the the Forum) was tired of the chaos, the toxicity and the terrible results of the Lakers without direction, and she no longer had patience with her brother Jim, who had also hurt her personally by rejecting twice (for the bench and for the dispatches) to Phil Jackson, his partner until 2016. However, he had doubts about how aggressive his approach had to be until Kobe Bryant appeared on the scene, with whom he met (as Amick tells it) in a Newport Beach bungalow . Kobe made it clear to him where his place was and how far the right moment was ... with LeBron becoming the obvious object of desire.

Kobe's advice was definitive: "He told me that if I did it, I had to do it for real, not with half measures. If not, they will come back and finish you off. You have to move fast, take a final blow, go for it or not. go, because if you don't they will be sabotaging you yourself. " Jeanie had another example: Phil Jackson had not changed enough things after his arrival at the Knicks and the dysfunctionality that dragged the franchise ended up taking him ahead.

But Kobe also spoke with LeBron in mind: "Jeanie, there was a reason why your father gave you the last word. And you also have to respect his wish. He gave you the hammer to make difficult decisions and at some point you have to make them. . The Mother of Dragons has to accept what she is. It changes everything at once. If you want things to be really different, you have to do it that way. I know who we want to sign. We both know it. And that someone is not going to come. here with all the shit that is now. It's not going to happen. If you want that player, you have to clean up, start from scratch. It's something cultural. You have to be in a suitable environment and more for someone like him and the moment of his career he is in. He does not want to go to a new place to deal with a lot of problems. He does not want to go to a place where there are sides, the walls speak ... you have to start from scratch ".

Kobe also brought his daughters, who had grown up very close to Jeanie, into the conversation: "For women who want to run a franchise and lead a successful company, you are the example, they are watching you. Set the tone. Set the precedent. You can. Doing so, you've been in this world since you were a child. You know him better than anyone. It's not just about the Lakers and what you prefer, this goes further. You have to take a step and lead this fight. "

So Jeanie Buss decided to take the definitive step and opened a new stage with Magic and Pelinka as managers. The reaction to five years without playoffs after having missed them only twice since the Buss' arrival at the Lakers (10 titles in 16 Finals). As is known, Magic closed the deal at LeBron's house the night free agency opened. It was his role ("finisher," says Jeanie) but the change in the Lakers had done almost all the work, as Rich Paul, right-hand man and agent for the best player on the planet, recognized: "For LeBron it was very important that the Lakers were establishing a new culture from the grassroots and that he could be part of that process. He joined the Lakers for many reasons, from familiar to game-specific, but the new team culture was one of the main ones. He felt that Jeanie, Magic and Rob were ushering in a new era. "

Later, Jeanie lived with her nerves on the surface of a 2018 free agency start in which Paul George refused to speak with the franchise (he missed the shot that months before seemed easier) and LeBron continued to defoliate the daisy. But finally, it all came together: "LeBron's arrival legitimizes everything we've been doing," he said.

But there is more, much beyond. In the DNA of a woman who lives by and for the Lakers and who has ended up doing what her father always wanted: keeping alive the essence of the Buss, the essence of the Lakers. In 2019, with Pelinka at the helm and without Magic, the trapaso was executed by Anthony Davis, two of the biggest stars in the NBA universe were reunited in the Lakers and progress was made towards the 2020 ring, the first in a decade and that of redemption and the return to glory of a sleeping giant. This is how she explains it, Mother of Dragons in LA: "We are six brothers and each one now has a very different life. I am not married, I do not have children ... all my brothers do. Each one has their priorities and not I can make everyone happy. But I am doing what my father asked me to do. And if it seems wrong to think of him because I did not ask for all this. It is what he wanted ".

"LeBron has left his mark on the Lakers forever"

This is how Jeanie Buss spoke as she tried to rebuild an empire that was in ruins. Now, with the prospect of a very tough year personally, he values above all a title that vindicates his leadership and commitment, values that were in question when many fans asked him to sell a franchise that seemed unable to adapt to the new times: "This year is being a tragedy, the greatest of all tragedies. My mother died, David Stern died, Kobe and his daughter Gianna died ... nobody can expect something like that, and it still hurts. I am proud of the resilience that this team has shown in the circumstances that have occurred and with everything that has fallen on them. The strength of our leadership, with LeBron James as captain and as references, has united us even more. I cannot be more proud. "

That moment, the signing of LeBron, continues to be the zero kilometer of resurrection for her: "I've lived with many great Lakers: Magic Johnson, Shaquille, Kobe, Pau Gasol ... Hall of Fame players. But LeBron is a very, very strong presence. His leadership is unique, he is not afraid and that is something that really influences me. His strength gives me power and I think that everyone in the team feels that way. He is not afraid of anything, he is not scared of anything challenge. I'm very proud of him. But I think the most important thing, what we value most about him, is that he takes responsibility, that he takes responsibility. I really like how he speaks clearly when he sees hypocrisy, someone who does not do his part ... And when the leader of a team is like that, the whole team is like that. I hope he will continue in the Lakers for many years. But whatever it is, he has already left his mark on this franchise forever. He is someone who for me is a treasure, whom I will protect. I really enjoyed watching him play and seeing how he brings out the best of all his companions. He's the most unique personality in the NBA right now. I couldn't be more proud that he's a laker. It is part of our history and it is bringing us back to where we always were. He has really understood and embraced the Lakers philosophy, our history. ”

And now, finally and again on top of the world, he remembers Kobe, the one who was his friend and adviser and the one who already imagined the Lakers once again champions when it seemed impossible to do so: "None of the tributes that have been made From the memories, it has been artificial or created. It has not been anything that we have orchestrated from the offices, it is totally organic. It comes from the heart. This is how our players are. I know how my relationship with Kobe was, I know how generous he was with me, which helped me with her advice. But then I've realized how much she helped a lot of other people, her wisdom. When you see a US Open tennis winner like Naomi Osaka talking about how she inspired her, when you see people from other disciplines and other countries ... you give yourself as much of what it involved, of how many lives it touched. He was a person who was always ready to work and who worked harder than anyone and kept overcoming barriers. Those lessons he taught us are not going to disappear, they will be for themselves He is part of the Lakers ".

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