Apparently the turmoil embroiling by the Los Angeles Lakers doesn’t just stay on the court. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, a bitter family feud rages behind the scenes over control of the legendary franchise. On March 3rd, 2017, part owner and President of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jeanie Buss, was granted a temporary restraining order to prevent her brothers Jim and Johnny from electing a new board of directors and ousting her as controlling owner.
According to NBC Sports, Jeanie relieved her brother Jim of his duties as Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations on February 21st, 2017. In 2014, Jim said he would step down in three to four years if the Lakers were not in a position to compete for a championship. However, there were no signs he would live up to his promise. Unwilling to wait for her brother’s resignation, Jeanie replaced Jim and longtime General Manager Mitch Kupchak with Laker legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Buss acknowledged that “[t]his was a very difficult decision. It was probably so hard for me to make that I probably waited too long. And for that, I apologize to Lakers fans. But now with clarity and direction, and talking to with Ervin, really knowing a change was needed, and that’s why we’re here today.” The Lakers reached the NBA Finals on three occasions during Jim’s 12 years at the helm, however the team’s success waned over the last three years, finishing with a franchise record 65 losses last year.
CBS Sports reports that Jim and Johnny postponed their coup in response to the legal maneuver, however Adam Streisand, attorney for Jeanie, does not believe this is the end of the brothers’ revolt. “This is no doubt the beginning and not the end of the game-playing,” said Streisand. “They don’t have a legal leg to stand on. This is a legal strategy doomed for failure.”
Kendall Howell is a Sports Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2019).