Jeanie Buss- First Woman Owner To Win An NBA Championship

LeBron James and Jeanie Buss after they won the NBA Championship. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

The LA Lakers keep updating their history books. Not only did they win their 17th NBA Championship, the LA Lakers owner, Jeanie Buss, became the first woman to have won it.

On October 11th the LA Lakers have finally done it- they became NBA champions for the first time since 2010. It was a tough year for the Lakers and for the whole league in general- the shocking loss of Kobe Bryant, the coronavirus pandemic that prevented fans from being in the stands… It was a lot to handle. Yet, the LA Lakers were on a mission- their dream was to hoist the NBA Championship trophy in the air. They wanted to prove that they have the ability, the power and the passion to win and, of course, they wanted to win it for Kobe.

Throughout such a tumultuous season Buss showed a kind of leadership that proves that she deserves the spot at the head of the Lakers organization table. Jeanie Buss’s father was the owner before her. He bought the Lakers in 1979 and was their sole owner until his death in 2013. She was involved with the Lakers since 1995 by running their business operations. She cemented her role as the team’s leader in 2017.

However, her coming in as a leader had its challenges in the beginning. Her father wanted Buss to be the controlling owner and her brother Jim to run the basketball operations. During spring 2014, when the Lakers failed to keep at that time superstar center Dwight Howard, Jim promised the Laker nation that they would be championship contenders within three years. Those three years have passed and they were a long way away from achieving that. So Jeanie made an executive decision to fire her brother and hired the Laker legend Magic Johnson as the head of basketball operations and Rob Pelinka (Kobe Bryant’s agent) as the GM.

A legal battle between the Jeanie Buss and her brothers ensued. They challenged her leadership position and wanted to displace her. Her brother found a legal team that would find a loophole in removing her from being controlling governor of the team, yet Buss’s legal team countered her brother’s claim and she officially cemented her leadership as the owner of the Laker organization for the rest of her life.

The years leading up to their first championship since 2010 were rocky ones. Free agents like Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge denied to play for the Lakers, after the salary cap went higher and bigger contracts were made possible, the Lakers signed Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov for combined $136 million dollars. They only played 111 games combined. The disappointments frustrated Jeanie Buss.

Yet, in 2017 Pelinka signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. It was a step in the right direction for the Lakers to eventually sign LeBron James, because Caldwell-Pope was represented by Rich Paul from Klutch Sports. Paul is a close friend and an associate of James. In 2018 LeBron signed with the Lakers for four years $153.3 million. It was a pivotal turn for the Lakers, a chance to leave behind their disappointing seasons behind.

Jeanie Buss and Linda Rambis. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A month later Magic Johnson resigned during an impromptu press conference. It made Jeanie Buss rely more on her longtime friend and coworker Linda Rambis as well as Linda’s husband and a former Lakers player and coach; her younger brothers Joey, an alternate governor and vice president of research and development, and Jesse, the team’s assistant general manager and director of scouting; also, Tim Harris, the team’s chief operating officer and president of business operations.

The dynamic duo of Buss and Rambis was criticized by many. Rambis was called “the shadow owner”. Jeanie Buss commented that even if those comments were hurtful and disheartening, the mission of the organization hasn’t changed. Now look who they are: the 2020 NBA Champions. This win made Jeanie Buss the only woman owner to win the NBA Championship.

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Jeanie Buss- First Woman Owner To Win An NBA Championship