The 2021-22 Los Angeles Lakers have been a disaster, so much so that owner Jeanie Buss has been going through her extensive Rolodex and picking the brains of all her smart basketball friends for their advice.
Despite having LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard — five future Hall of Famers — the Lakers are in ninth place in the Western Conference standings. They have the 22nd-ranked net rating and will most likely be in the play-in tournament after having the second-best odds to win the championship in the preseason.
Buss told Bill Oram of The Athletic in February that she still speaks with Lakers legend Magic Johnson about the current team and ways to fix the roster. However, Johnson isn’t the only Los Angeles icon Buss talks to.
According to Oram and Sam Amick, Phil Jackson has been in frequent contact with Buss about team matters all season long.
“Sources say Jackson, the Lakers legend and ex-fiancé of Buss, whose presence at Saturday’s win against Golden State was highlighted by the team’s Twitter account, has been in frequent contact with Buss about team matters all season long,” Oram and Amick reported. “The complicated and often uncomfortable dynamics surrounding the Westbrook situation, in particular, are known to have drawn his interest. As unofficial consultants go, they don’t get much more experienced or credible than Jackson.”
Jackson won five championships as the Lakers’ head coach. As Oram and Amick noted, the Zen Master used to be engaged to Buss and is one of the best basketball minds in NBA history.
Buss’ desire to hear Jackson’s point of view on the Lakers should surprise no one since they are close. However, LeBron and Anthony may not like the move.
LeBron Doesn’t like Jackson
In 2016, Jackson characterized LeBron’s business associates as a “posse.” Since then, LBJ hasn’t talked to him.
“I had nothing but respect for him as a coach for what he was able to do,” LeBron said in 2016 to ESPN. “Obviously, he was at the helm of my favorite player of all time (Michael Jordan) and also being there growing up and watching him with the Lakers, but I got nothing for him. It just sucks that now at this point having one of the biggest businesses you can have both on and off the floor, having a certified agent in Rich Paul, having a certified business partner in Maverick Carter that’s done so many great business [deals], that the title for young African-Americans is the word posse.”
The King isn’t the only Lakers player who has a negative history with Jackson. In fact, Anthony may despise him more than LeBron does.
Anthony & Jackson Weren’t on the Same Page in New York
Jackson was the New York Knicks‘ President from March 18, 2014, to June 28, 2017. During that span, he took several public and private shots at Anthony, who was the best player on the Knicks.
In December 2016, Jackson told CBS Sports that Anthony broke a team rule by holding on to the ball for too long. Four days after Jackson’s comments, he and Anthony met privately, but nothing was resolved and members of the Knicks were puzzled as to why Jackson was publicly criticizing his top player.
During the 2016-17 season, Jackson would lead meditation sessions. Anthony, who knew his President wasn’t a fan of him, retaliated by falling asleep in the sessions, per Ian Begley of ESPN.
If LeBron and Anthony find out that Jackson is helping Buss and the Lakers, it will be interesting to hear their reactions since they both don’t have a good rapport with the former Chicago Bulls coach.