Los Angeles Lakers controlling owner and president Jeanie Buss had some strong words for her team in an exclusive interview with Natasha Dye of PEOPLE.
The 61-year-old told Dye that she’s “proud” of the Lakers for not giving up and fighting through adversity after starting the season 2-10.
“I’m proud of this Lakers team this season,” Buss said. “We started off poorly, and it would’ve been easy to give up. These guys committed to each other and really came in the second half of the season and made a nice playoff push, which is really what the fans want. They made that sacrifice for the greater good, for the team, and they’ve accomplished a lot because of that.”
The Lakers reshaped their roster at the trade deadline, parting ways with Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Damian Jones and Thomas Bryant and acquiring D’Angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, Mo Bamba and Davon Reed (who was waived in April). Los Angeles went 18-9 after the trade deadline, which was the best record in the Western Conference.
The purple and gold are the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs and one win away from advancing to the Western Conference Semifinals.
Jeanie Buss on Austin Reaves: ‘He Does All the Little Things’
Buss is a huge fan of Austin Reaves, who is the Lakers’ fourth-leading scorer in the playoffs.
“There’s something about him that he just never gives up, and that’s inspiring and contagious with his teammates,” Buss said. “He does all the little things that get us in a position to be successful.”
Reaves is averaging 17.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists against the Memphis Grizzlies while shooting 49.0% from the field, 41.2% from beyond the arc and 77.8% from the free-throw line. The 24-year-old becomes a restricted free agent this summer and he told Shams Charania of Stadium on April 10 that he wants to re-sign with the Lakers.
“Yeah I wanna be a Laker,” Reaves told Charania. “Obviously, they gave me the first opportunity. I was a huge Laker fan growing up. Big Kobe [Bryant] fan. So honestly, just to be able to play for the Lakers organization is special and I wanna be a Laker. So hopefully we can get this done and I can stay there for hopefully my whole career.”
Jarred Vanderbilt on LeBron James: ‘He’s About Winning’
Vanderbilt sounded off about LeBron James after the Lakers won Game 4 against the Grizzlies on April 24. James, 38, finished with 22 points and 20 rebounds in the overtime win.
“Man, it’s just a testament to who he is and what he’s about,” Vanderbilt said about James. “He’s about winning and he did whatever he needed to do to win tonight and that was rebounding, getting 20 boards or getting the block or even a last-second box-out. He took two charges on Ja Morant. Those are just winning plays, and when your leader is kind of doing that, everybody just kind of follow suit and he set the tone for that. So it was great.”
James is averaging 24.0 points, 13.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists versus the Grizzlies. The four-time MVP and four-time Finals MVP leads the playoffs in rebounds per game.