In the same statement announcing the death of Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, his family assured fans that the team would remain with the Busses for generations to come.
"It was our father’s often stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family," read the message, posted Monday on the Lakers' official site. "The Lakers have been our lives as well and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy."
Buss family spokesman Bob Steiner emphasized the family's continuing control of the Lakers franchise in an interview with ESPN that day, explaining that the team is now controlled by a collective trust that benefits Dr. Buss' six children: sons Johnny, Jim, Joey, Jesse and daughters Jeanie Buss and Janie Drexel.
"The entity can't be split," Steiner said to ESPN. "The heirs do not own the team individually. It is a collective."
And they've been running it as a collective for quite some time already. In 1999, his daughter Jeanie Buss became Executive Vice President of the Lakers franchise. Now that her father is gone, she replaced him as the team's governor. Jim Buss became Executive Vice President of Player Personnel in 2011 after spending six years assisting general manager Mitch Kupchak and was widely touted as Dr. Buss' successor.
Dr. Buss' decision to pass management of the team on to these children did not escape scrutiny, and for many, the results were mixed. Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke noted Monday that Jeanie Buss is "the most respected female executive in sports," but that Jim Buss' tenure led to "this season's debacle" -- the Lakers' record is so poor that it's uncertain they'll make the playoffs. From Plaschke's column:
In Buss' perfect world, the team's majority owners would now become his six children, led by Jim and Jeanie Buss. Except Jim and Jeanie have vastly different philosophies, and have barely communicated since Jim botched the attempted rehiring this season of Phil Jackson, who happens to be Jeanie's fiancé.
In addition to botching relations with Jackson, Jim Buss was blamed by some for the Mike Brown coaching debacle. He's also the one who pulled the trigger on trades for Steve Nash and Dwight Howard -- trades that aren't going so well.
Magic Johnson, leader of the "Showtime" Lakers in the 1980s, had this to say about Jim Buss' record after the Lakers hired Mike D'Antoni over Phil Jackson: "I love Dr. Buss. I don't believe in Jim Buss."
So where does that leave the Lakers? The players are still searching for their groove more than half way through the season and they're being managed by two siblings that reportedly aren't speaking to each other. Hopefully, this Jeanie Buss quote from a 2009 interview will clue fans in on how the Buss family will pull together:
I've seen what happens with other teams in other leagues that are in our situation ... I know we live in an age when conflict sells newspapers, and people like to hear about siblings fighting. It makes for interesting media. But we've all found our place. We know how much we can help each other, and we all want the same thing.
Check out photos of Dr. Jerry Buss from his "Showtime" days until now.