The relationship between LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers continues to be scrutinized despite each party’s efforts to downplay any tension. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss has sent a clear message to James and his agency, Klutch Sports, to stop their shenanigans, according to The Ringer’s Bill Simmons, who provided context to the Lakers’ reaction to James’ All-Star weekend comments, as well as the organization’s relationship with Klutch.
“LeBron spent all of All-Star Weekend just doing things, putting stuff out there,” Simmons noted during a February 28 episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast.” “Floating Sam Presti, floating the, ‘When Bronny James is coming in the league, I am playing with him. That’s how you get me to be on your team.’ Floating some third-party stuff that then they denied after about how they had tried to facilitate these Westbrook trades, they were unhappy. Taking no accountability for any of it.
“And then I think what happened was, Jeanie Buss is a tough lady, man. Wait till people watch this HBO show, like she’s been in the league since the early ’80s. And I think at some point, she stood up to those guys and was like, ‘No, stop, you don’t get to undermine all this. Stop, you’re here, you’re under contract next year. What are we doing?’ And I think they had a powwow – that’s what I heard. But I think she stood up for at least something, but for them to unwind last week and pretend that they weren’t kind of being chaos agents was really strange.”
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LeBron on Klutch-Lakers Meeting: ‘I Heard It Just Like You Guys Heard It’
The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported Buss, Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka and Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met for two hours on February 25. The subject of the meeting was “clearing the air after reports of rising tensions,” Amick wrote. For his part, James tried to distance himself from the meeting, insisting that he learned about the event through media reports.
“I heard it just like you guys heard it, you guys saw the report, I saw the report,” James explained during a February 26 press conference. “I was literally just trying to get away from the game as much as I could before this later stage takes over. But I think it’s important that it always stays transparent between us, and we don’t really care about the outside noise.
“I think a lot of people are, to be honest, just jealous of the relationship that Rich [Paul] has with the front office and with this team and the relationship that I have that I’ve grown over the last four years. That’s what I think it boils down to.”
Lakers ‘Leaked Some Stuff’ About James & Klutch Sports: Report
Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd reported that both the Lakers and Klutch Sports leaked to the media information regarding the perceived tension. He said Buss’ message to James was: “This is your mess.”
“So, he’s unhappy, his guys, Klutch, they want a move at the All-Star break,” Cowherd noted during his February 28 podcast. “And Jeanie Buss is like, ‘Hey, I moved off Shaq. We wanted Buddy Hield, it was a done deal, you wanted Westbrook. I own the team. This is your mess. Get it done.’
“And they leaked some stuff to let it be known to people like me. …let guys like me [know], a conduit to the public, ‘I’m not moving. LeBron, this was your mess.’ And for the first time ever, LeBron and Klutch, they leaked stuff to say, ‘We didn’t say that.'”