iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Paula Duffy

Paula Duffy

Posted: May 27, 2010 10:07 AM

Jeanie Buss Key to Lakers Keeping Phil Jackson in Los Angeles

What's Your Reaction:

In Phoenix on Tuesday evening, Phil Jackson finally put some concerns to rest about a move to the city of Chicago for his next coaching assignment.

The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that Jackson, when asked about the ESPN report of back-channel communications, said: "Those back channels have not reached me. I have no, at all, desire to go back to Chicago and coach the Bulls."

Of course if you want to parse his words, you could stretch an argument that although he might not have a desire, NOW, it doesn't rule out a change of heart. But I think that is beyond stretching, bordering on desperate reaching.

So let's get down to being real, shall we? Phil has said that he is inclined to coach again next season and if he does it is likely he'd stay with the Lakers. He always does a post-season health check before he likes to make a final decision but it is a familiar story with Phil.

He also said that he was led to believe, although he later admitted no one has told him to his face, that he might be asked to work for less next season. Original story on that subject, here.

That salary issue got the rumor mill cranking full time and led to the stories about communication from the Bulls, LeBron and even the New Jersey Nets owner, Mikhail Prokhorov

Although speculation about his next assignment has duly mentioned his relationship of more than 10 years with the team's Executive Vice President, Jeanie Buss I don't know if enough importance is placed on that part of his life. Would Phil want to leave her for 8-9 months a year and conduct a long-distance relationship?

This is a couple who lives together, works together and even drives to work together. Jeanie has been fully integrated into his relationships with his children and grandchildren.

She is even welcoming to his ex-wife who has stayed with them when she is in town to see one of her kids. Anyone who hasn't followed Jeanie's Twitter account can be brought up to speed pretty quickly on that side of things (twitter.com/jeaniebuss)

Unlike the first few years of their time together, there is no sign that they have any desire to keep their respective options open on the romance side of things.

Jeanie was given credit by Phil for working with him and her father to get the two back into a room together after their famous professional break-up of 2004. Things weren't good in Laker-land after the team's collapse in the NBA Finals against the Detroit Pistons.

Dr. Buss traded Shaq, patched things up with Kobe and Phil was lost in that shuffle. He took off and spent time at his home in Montana as well as globe-hopping to places such as Bora-Bora and Australia where he spent time with ex-player Luc Longley.

Jeanie kept her day job and had to wonder if her hope of a life with Phil would survive the separation and the rift between him and her father.

She managed to get her man back to the team and her without a lot of drama that became public. My vote is on Jeanie as more than the X-factor. She is the tie-breaker and a strong one at that.

Read Paula's daily columns on LA sports and national stories at Examiner.com

 
 
 

Follow Paula Duffy on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jurisdiva