Friday morning, Brian and I had the pleasure of chatting with Lakers Vice President of Business Operations Jeanie Buss. Phil Jackson's better half is promoting her new book "Laker Girl," co-written by Steve Springer and now on shelves everywhere. We hit on a variety of topics ranging from the book, Tuesday's ring ceremony, and Jackson's future with the team. (Not to mention Jeanie's pet name for her beau!) A summary:
• Jeanie's boyfriend has gobs of experience as an author and a diarist, but she nonetheless didn't draw upon anything from him while taking a maiden voyage into the book world. "I can't compare myself to Phil Jackson in any way, shape or form," laughed Buss. "His view on the world and his intellectual approach, I don't have that in common with him. I'm more of a Twitter girl... I had to be who I am. Take it or leave it."
That said, she'd prefer the "take" option be exercised. Aside from the natural desire to move product, Phil's collaboration with Andy Bernstein, "Journey to the Ring," is about to hit stores, and match his sales would be fun, especially after her beau finished his work in three weeks while she slaved away for months.( Let's be honest, though. Phil's book is photo-driven, so Andy did all the heavy lifting.)
• Letting strangers into your life is an exercise in vulnerability, but Jeanie deemed nothing in her personal life off limits. "I didn't hold anything back... When you try to hide things, that kind of stuff messes with your mind." Still, that doesn't mean everyone was initially comfortable with the curtain being drawn back.
"Phil did not like the idea of me doing this book," admitted Buss. "He felt vulnerable in a way he couldn't control." Thankfully, the finished product prompted a sigh of relief, along with a pat on the back. According to Jeanie, Phil "loved" the book.
• A compelling aspect of the book was Jeanie's description of her parents' divorce and time often spent away from her father during that split. As a young kid, she grew quite self conscious of his absence. When classmates asked about her dad, she eventually told people he was dead, which felt easier at the time. Lots of details are also shared about Jeanie's mother, an important but typically under the radar presence in her life.
• Jeanie swears she was a high school nerd. We don't buy it, but that's her story and she's sticking to it.
• When your dad owns the Lakers, getting a foot in the door for this business is fairly easy. But that's not the same thing as an easy path to being taken seriously, particularly as a woman. The credentials she brings to the table are now obvious, but that wasn't always the case.
"There certainly was a time when I started when people looked at me as the secretary to Dr. Buss," noted Jeanie. "Being the boss' daughter amongst your peers, you gotta show up every day. That's the first Everybody will give you a certain amount of respect just because you're the boss' daughter. But if you don't follow through, you lose that pretty quick."
• Her pet name for Phil? Boobah. The origins of this moniker are pretty random. We probably can't get away with calling Jackson "Boobah," but if y'all want to, ain't much he can do about it. I'm just sayin'.
• Jeanie loved this year's highly personalized ring ceremony, but refused to even speculate about whether they'd do it the same way next season. The fear of jinxes is a powerful emotion, indeed. I also devised a clever way to create a 25 gold karat ring, should the Lakers ever need one down the road.
• As I reported yesterday, Jeanie is fairly confident Phil will indeed call it a career next season, although she conceded nothing is truly set in stone.