Los Angeles Lakers: Joey Buss

Talking With: Joey Buss, Los Angeles D-Fenders President/CEO

March, 26, 2012
By The Kamenetzky brothers
While Jim Buss draws most of the attention -- and the ire -- when fans consider the next generation of Buss children taking over the family business from their father, there are two other sons learning the business. Most prominent is Joey, once that random Buss you'd never heard of who accepted the '09 championship trophy from David Stern after Game 5 in Orlando, now the President/CEO of the organization's D-League team, the D-Fenders.

The 27-year old USC grad is in his fourth year running the minor league squad. Where Jim worked his way up through the Lakers organizational structure as part of the player personnel division, Joey is getting a more holistic education with the D-Fenders. A few weeks back, we sat down with him for an extended interview.

Elsa/Getty Images
Dr. Buss let his son sink or swim in Orlando.

Q: How did you get into your role with the D-Fenders?

Joey Buss: When I graduated college, the first year I spent with the Lakers and Phil Jackson, shadowing him for the year. Traveled to all the away games, went to all the coach’s meetings. That was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, just getting in there. We also invested in the D-League as the first NBA team to buy its own affiliate at around the same time. I was trying to learn different roles, and different parts of the organization to see where a good fit would be.

As I talked with my sister Jeanie and my dad it seemed that the minor league sport was an open opportunity to take on, and invest my time into fully to try and build it as an asset for the Lakers. From the business part, from the basketball part, just managing the whole deal. Go out there and do it. This is your team, go do it.

Q: What did you learn in that year shadowing Phil?

Joey Buss: Candidly, I learned it’s very hard work. I learned all about the triangle offense, and the inner workings of how Phil likes to manage games. Coming from college you’re kind of outside looking in. This was an inside, behind the scenes look. Growing up with the team, it was more just about the players, meeting guys. That’s all I really cared about. What this really taught me was the strategy of the game. Getting that coaching insight was very valuable basketball knowledge.

You really quickly start realizing that it’s not as easy to say it as it is to do it. Their point guard scored a lot, why couldn’t we do something about? But then the coaches, you [see they] tried everything you possibly could. You did this substitution, you did the zone, you tried this different on the pick and roll, you tried different avenues. You really get to see that they try everything. They don’t not think of anything. And really having a realization of how difficult it is for these guys to maintain an energy level through a whole season.

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D-Fenders prep for Lakers training camp invitations

December, 6, 2011
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- For several members of the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Monday’s home game against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers was more than just a D-League contest.

It was the unofficial start to Los Angeles Lakers training camp.

The Lakers are set to open camp Friday on the same Toyota Sports Center court on which the D-Fenders, the Lakers’ D-League affiliate, played their game against the Vipers. As many as seven players on the D-Fenders’ 12-man roster are expected to be invited to camps across the NBA, with several of those players staying in L.A. to try out for the varsity version of the purple and gold.

“We have a staff that works very closely with [the Lakers],” said D-Fenders CEO Joey Buss, son of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss. “Our offices are very close in vicinity so we keep collaborating with [Lakers general manager] Mitch [Kupchak], Mike Brown and the Lakers' assistant coaching staff. I think you’ll see when official training camp rosters are set, what influence is there.”

The players expected to make the leap from D-League standouts to NBA hopefuls are guards Jamaal Tinsley, Elijah Millsap, Eniel Polynice and Courtney Fortson; forwards Brian Hamilton and Zach Andrews; and center Brandon Costner.

Official training camp rosters will not be released until later in the week after the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, but two of the more intriguing players who could be vying for a spot next to Kobe Bryant & Co. are Tinsley and Millsap.

Tinsley, the No. 1 overall pick in last month’s D-League draft, averaged 9.8 points, 6.6 assists and 1.59 steals in eight years in the NBA but hasn’t played in the league since 2009-10 with Memphis.

He appeared slimmed down Monday and, despite the frantic pace in the D-Fenders’ 132-126 win, was able to maintain steady control of the game on offense at the point guard position.

After being out of professional basketball last season, he had a humble perspective when asked about the possibility of playing in a pro training camp.

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Nick Young
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
ReboundsJ. Hill 7.4
AssistsK. Bryant 6.3
StealsK. Bryant 1.2
BlocksW. Johnson 1.0