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Steve Springer talks about new book he wrote with Lakers' Jeanie Buss

Buss I recently spoke with Steve Springer, author with Jeanie Buss of "Laker Girl." The former Los Angeles Times writer provides some insights and details about the development of the book project, Buss' relationship with her family and her boyfriend, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, and more.

On the project: "It was something I talked to her about for a couple of years. She wasn't totally convinced that she had enough to fill up a book, but she started tweeting from Laker games, and she now has over 30,000 followers. So I said to her, 'Basically this is just going to be a huge expansion of that. If 30,000 people are following you tweeting, 140 characters could become a 300-page book. She agreed to it. Fortunately, we picked the year the Lakers won the championship, which made it all the more appealing.

"We started opening night of last season. We met before every home game, and we talked on the phone before or after road games. We talked about what was going on in her life. She doesn't have a 9-to-5 job like most people. She's in the office every day. But she's interacting with celebrities, ticket requests and broadcast rights and flying off to league meetings. It's to the average person a pretty interesting life. We talked about what was going on that day or that week. ... She has a pretty interesting life. Her father owns the team, and her boyfriend is the coach. She's been in Playboy. She's run the Forum for a few years. She worked with tennis, roller hockey and musical acts. She has a real interesting story to tell, and it really comes out in the book. I wasn't sure when we'd begin how to do it, but I played with the idea of just having current events trigger memories of her life. But I came to the conclusion and she came to the conclusion that it was just better to separate the two. It would drive the reader crazy bouncing back and forth every other page. I just felt like we'll carry the season through and divide it by months and then intersperse her biography. The book starts with her father as a 4-year-old in a breadline during the Depression. We started way back at the very beginning of the Buss family as we know it. We kept bringing her life along pretty successfully."

On the importance of family to Buss: "It's very strong, and that was her private consideration. When she had thoughts about doing this, her father wasn't a sports owner. He was a real-estate guy. That was her first thought and first desire was to be involved in this real-estate empire. Of course, when it turned out that this was going to turn into sports, that was certainly an appealing way to go and shift in her thinking. But I believe her when she says had he stayed in real estate, she'd be heavily involved in the real-estate business today instead of the Lakers."

On how Buss handled the coaching uncertainty: "There was a drama running through the season because of Phil and the uncertainty over Phil. Here she is in the middle, as she says herself in the book. Her father makes the decision. She clearly is in love with Phil and wants him to be happy. She wasn't even 100% sure what Phil wanted to do. And of course with her own situation, she didn't want Phil to leave because that would affect their own relationship. She also loved the idea that he'd be coach of the team. There was a lot going on there. I think there's a real telling point in the book where she learns Byron Scott has been invited to sit in her father's suite. She hadn't known about it, and this was at a point where she didn't know whether her father wanted Phil back, so there was a lot of tension there. She wanted to look out for Phil's interests, and she didn't like the idea that maybe something was going on in regards to her future that she didn't know about that others in the organization did know about.

"I talked to her about it because obviously it turned out that he did come back. I said, 'This is a diary. So even though it turned out your fears and concerns weren't something you had to worry about, at that moment that was your feeling on that day, on whatever it was. Whatever you were feeling that day is the way you should feel in the book. Then it'll play out almost like a novel where feelings have changed and things have changed. Just because when you're finishing the book, you know that what happens didn't really matter, you should still leave it in because it shows how the whole situation evolved over the month.' By doing the diary, I think it was very valuable because it really showed the audience the growing tension and uncertainty all throughout the season."

On Buss' relationship with Jackson: "We all see Phil on the sidelines and in the press conferences and in public settings, but this takes you literally into their bed. There was an anecdote where Phil was so restless after a loss, he steals Jeanie's pillow and starts fighting with it. He somehow imagines Jeanie's pillow was the ball and he was fighting for it. Not only does it take you so far behind the scenes, it shows everything about a Hall of Fame coach. Everything, it's him doing his laundry or how he devises his game plan or him cooking at home. ...

"In this case, Jeanie understood that she really had to open herself. She had a real deal whether it was the collapse of her marriage, the tension with Phil's situation, her posing in Playboy, all those feelings are out there. She never once -- no matter what subject I brought up -- shied away from it. She got it right from the beginning that this [was] what she was going to do and really open herself up. She even made the statement to reveal herself emotionally in this book was more difficult than it was to reveal herself physically in Playboy. Those were just photos of her. This was opening up her heart and telling her successes, her failures, her thoughts and her emotions for the whole world to see. She understood. When she committed to doing it, she did it, but she said it was more difficult."

On Buss' relationship with the media: "The years I covered, she was the most accessible in terms of the organization and the most frank and most honest. She never counsels it in bureaucratic terms. She understood part of her routine in this was going to league meetings and discussing the possible impending lockout. She understood those private meetings couldn't be revealed in the book. She's responsible. She knows what she can't say. But in terms of a day-to-day operation with the team, she's been frank with that and her feelings about Phil. She's talked in the book about wanting to marry him. I dealt with her over the years and did an L.A. Times magazine story on her a few years ago. She's always been open and frank, and people know that when they go to her, they can get what they're looking for.

"I struggled a while with the structure, and I think it came out fine. I taped Jeanie for over 50 to 60 hours, but this wasn't a case of her talking into a tape recorder and then picking up the book and reading that. She was really hands-on in terms of editing. She didn't take anything out but reworded words that made her feel more comfortable. I told her she had the makings of a copy editor. She really went over it and worked at it. It was funny for her because Phil has a picture book that just came out ["Journey to the Ring"] so the two of them were working furiously on their respective books over the summer. ... There are so many nuggets. There's an item when Del Harris was the Lakers coach, before every home game he'd bring three ties to Jeanie's office and have her pick the tie he wore at the game."

On Buss' approach to work: "She was on the job right from the beginning. She's 19 years old and her father hands her the general manager's job with the L.A. Strings. From that first moment, she's got something to prove. She's got four brothers and a sister involved in the organization, but she has been diligent in terms of working hard. She's the one who comes in the office every day and puts in a full day. She's really put her stamp on the team in a unique way. When they decided to honor the Minneapolis Lakers with a banner and invite the Lakers on that team, it was Jeanie who realized those guys didn't get championship rings. So she went out and got rings for each and every one of those Hall of Famers and presented it to them. That's a personal touch that really shows her feeling and her understanding in embracing the entire Laker organization and Laker history."

Photo: File photo of Lakers vice president Jeannie Buss on hand to pass out Championship rings to open the season against the San Antonio Spurs in 2002 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Credit: Alexander Gallardo / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (45)

The comments to this entry are closed.

I hereby declare this Jeanie Buss day!

I second that emotion!

I have a mad crush on Jeanie, so I third the motion.

Per Mike Trudell on Twitter: "Phil Jackson said today that he thinks the road trip starting Dec. 10 (Chicago) may be a better target for Bynum's return."

That's reasonable.

haha I'm glad you guys enjoyed this

I believe we may have another contender for a statue at Staples.


"...There's an item when Del Harris was the Lakers coach, before every home game he'd bring three ties to Jeanie's office and have her pick the tie he wore at the game."


Don't blame Del Harris for his clothing choices, either!



Yep, and they should take it directly from one of the Playboy poses.

63 footer.

I agree with your comments about Olajuwon (great great player obviously) Malone is a little fatman with skills, but he was not a legitimate center in my book. And for Wilt, for my he is in terms of BB skills, the best big man all time (yes, better than Kareem), but he has a problem in my book, never can beat Russell and his Lakers history, alongside Pau´s recent history, is poor (remember, 2 rings and 3 finals in a row). Pau has greatness, bro, and he will be for sure near to Kareem in the Lakers History.

Ps.- Is so dificult be 1-go-to-guy in a team as Memphis. Lebron was the 1-go-to-guy in Cleveland and you can see his recent history. Is Lebron a bad player for that????? Kobe was the 1-go-to-guy before Pau´s time, and I think he cant win any ring being this 1-go-to-guy.

Who´s for you "The Man" and the "sidekick" in the Showtime era????????

Posted by: Rick

Did anyone else notice that weird chin/jaw thing she had going on last night on LTV? I couldn't help but wonder WTH was that? Otherwise, YOWZA!


Ricky - we'll agree to disagree but in a good way, as talking basketball is always fun. I got love for Pau, and if he continues to play the way he does for the next four years or so, he becomes a cross for me between James Worthy & Kareem in the Showtime era. Magic was the #1 go-to guy in that time, not Kareem, though Kareem was major guns to have, he was on the backside of his career (whereas the Bucks Kareem was a monster).

But again, once we get into this, it starts to become about great TEAMS with great players, rather than great players. I had a problem with Wilt as well, but I had more of a problem with the 60's Lakers craptastic coaching. Wasn't until the Sharm that we got a great coach, and by that time Elg was bye-bye, West was at the end, as was Wilt (yet the '72 Lakers are perhaps the greatest evah). Sharman on the '69 & '70 & '71 Lakers would have been a whole 'nother animal for the league.

I still say Malone was a monster.

dbdh - I was going to make a crack about statue, blow-up doll, etc.... but I'm above all that, so I won't. I'd rather just make snide remarks about Tony Parker instead.

Again, Pau is very good, if not the best PF in the game today, but not at center. Pau has not seen the level of competition that other centers faced during their careers. That's why Dwight Howard is such a dominant center now. Neither Pau nor Howard would match up well against the Olajuwons, Ewings, Malones or Shaqs of this world, trust me. Also, you can not discount Tim Duncan as one of the all time greats either. He has played PF primarily and so far he edges Pau at that position. If rings are your measuring stick, he fits the bill.
It is hard to convince you to look at other players that have been great before Pau because you look at everyone else with ojos espanoles, but objectively speaking, there have been others. Pau is having a great season and by the time his career (with the Lakers) is over he should be considered an all time great at the PF positon. Then we can talk about retiring his number.
PS. Pau has the likable personality going for him. Humble and talented which is big in my book btw.

I also loathed The Mailman. However, I still firmly believe that if the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man (Oliver Miller) hadn't have fallen on top of Malone and injured him, we would've won it in 2004. Malone hurt his knee again in Game 2 of The Finals that year. Keyword: again. Had he not been limited already, the knee would've been fine. His firepower, rebounding, and passing would've negated the poor performances by Snaq & Kobe. One can dream...



Tony Parker is as crooked as Brent Barry's nose.



Oops! Moses Malone! Ooohhhhh!

Well I still hate Karl Malone.

Sorry, y'all!


A Laker Girl running the Lake show.
Sounds familiar to us Laker Girls here at the LAT blog!

Way to represent Jeanie!

Cheers - PLG

PLG - oooooo SNAP!!!


Our evil plan is working PERFECTLY!!!

dbdh - Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Molly Malone... it's all good.

"...There's an item when Del Harris was the Lakers coach, before every home game he'd bring three ties to Jeanie's office and have her pick the tie he wore at the game."

i'm not surprised he could not pick a tie, when he could not pick the best players and had Kobe on the bench.

Watching the Pacquiao/Margarito fight last Saturday...and they panned to both fighter's wifes...

Then I thought of all the athletes and musicians who are ugly, but have fine wives or girlfriends...

Ric Ocasek came to mind...great talent and very successful...and got Paulina Porizkova, a top model for Victoria Secrets...

Makes me all we need are money and fame to get beautiful women...

Ric says, no it's about:

"Why not use the insurance money from Lloyds of London that was mentioned before which is tied up with Bynum's injury? Is there an insurance or just a myth?"
Edwin Gueco

yes, i mentioned that before. Lloyds of London insured the firs "BODY" part ever: the legs of Marlene Dietrich.

Just a Gigolo Marlene Dietrich - with David Bowie. the composition is Thelonious Monk

and here you can chose the segments to watch the entire movie:

I second that emotion! Posted by: justanothermambafan | November 18, 2010 at 01:28 PM
Sing it Smokey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LEWSTRS - I believe Rick and Paulina are still going strong. Makes you wonder.

I understand Ricky's point about Gasol, and that is that the man IS historically an underrated "center." The Pau Gasol who we have seen since joining the Lakers reminds me of another "center" in his prime who is viewed as a power forward, and that is Tim Duncan. I would put Tim Duncan ahead of David Robinson and Patrick Ewing and on par with Olajuwon and Moses Malone (the most underrated of them all), and I would put the Pau Gasol of today on par with Tim Duncan in his prime. In fact, when it comes to IQ, passing ability, deftness around the rim, using both hands and then adding his mid-range game, improving defense, shot blocking and rebounding abilities, I completely understand where Ricky can make an argument. One can only imagine how Pau would be viewed today among the all-time greats if he had played with Kobe from the time he entered the league.

HAVING SAID THAT, he's not considered to be a true center even though he plays in the low post with his back to the basket, so we can't rank him with the true centers just like we can't rank Duncan with them. Personally, I believe that Pau Gasol and Tim Duncan have both always been centers, but what I think doesn't matter. But I will say that Pau could have competed with any power forward or center in any era, although he would have been overpowered by Wilt, Shaq or Moses Malone in their primes. Willis Reed and Wes Unseld would have been pains in the butt for Pau, too, although Reed was a power forward playing alongside Walt Bellamy before he went to his natural center position. But Pau would have been able to physically compete with Kareem, Olajuwon, Nate Thurmond, Bill Russell, Bob Lanier and, of course, George Mikan. We saw him go toe to toe in the NBA Finals with Dwight Howard, the best pure center of today. I think that Pau is a player who will forever remain underrated because of the era he played in regardless of whether he's viewed as a center or a power forward.

excellent "Queens" story.

I also agree with your take on Pau.
He is a great Pf, but if he had to go up against the like of Hakeem, it be a disaster. I love Pau, but Hakeem had every offensive move in the book, was as quick as a cat, and could dominate on the defensive end of the floor.

That being said, once Pau wins a couple more rings, I think he will be considered as one of the best power forwards to ever play the game.

As for the Magic giving us Howard for Bynum, I highly doubt it. They already let Shaq walk away from them in his prime, only to end up here, so I don't see them giving us a perennial pick for DOY for Socks.

KobeMVP888 - I like your assessment, but the one thing -- and this is not a "soft" comment -- but I find that many of the greats you mentioned had a much stronger killer instinct than Pau, Timmy included. It's a fine line thing, but Tim's hunger, Russell's hunger (and he would and whomped Pau, as would Thurmond), Moses hunger (in his prime), were superior to Pau's, and in the final outcome, that makes the difference to me.

As a PF, Pau fits nicely, but there are times that if we're comparing great centers, he doesn't quite take over games like the others. He has great runs, etc., but for an extended run, I want to see him put his head down and dominate. Kareem has dominated. Later, on the Lakers, when Kareem went down, Magic dominated. We see Kobe (whose middle name is "Dominate"), etc. Kareem was a skill player who could dominate. Everyone gives Pau a pass on that, saying he's "not that kind of player." I have no problem if he's "not that kind of player" - he's a Lakers great in my book if he continues along the way he is, but when comparing the "greatest centers" - man, you gotta dominate.

and because it is close to tea time, a historical off the wall Godardian moment from Band of Outsiders. and his little reference to Chaplin

MM - Great work on the Jeannie Buss interview.

mclyne - I wasn't being realistic about DHoward, just pointing out that over the years the greatest centers have somehow landed in Lakerland, and thought that Howard might come in a few years if Drew didn't work out. Certainly not in a trade.

Them Crooked Vultures - love JP Jones' weird bass thingie. Helluva group of players... not always blown away by their songwriting, but then, we can't all have Jimmy Page with us all the time.

and a Killer B's fast break through Louvre

ouchhhhhhhh goes eclectic with nouvelle vague. Haven't put them on the rotation in awhile, now I must. Because of the vast amount of music, I am practicing having one earbud going from one iPod with one song into one ear, another earbud going from another iPod with another song into the other ear. I will work my way up to a third song into a nostril, then a fourth into the other nostril. I refuse to comment after that.

Well since 63 Footer has declared this Jeannie Buss day. I'll have to send this one out to her...and the other Laker girls at the LAT blog like PLG suggested:

Walks like a boss and talks like a boss
Manicured nails to set the pedicure off

Another dedication to the Laker girls (in all its power pop underrated goodness):

63 Footer

u need 2 extra iPads for visuals to cover your eyes .

LRob: Whiny R&B singer alert. FAIL!

yesterday i got an e-mail from a new acquaintance asking me if i play tennis. my response was that all i can do on the court is :

so it is how i also got to the above clips

ouchhhhhhhh - It's a good day to Godard.

63 Footer

That's why I made the comment about him playing with Kobe because before that, he WAS soft. Since then, Kobe has injected that killer instinct in him. I don't agree that Russell or Nate Thurmond would have whomped the Pau Gasol of today. I think the best player to measure Gasol against in terms of what I am talking about is Kevin Garnett. Hubie Brown, who coached Gasol in Memphis, said before the 2008 NBA Finals that the ONE player who always gave Gasol fits was KG. Now, I'm not saying that the KG of 2010 was the same KG of 2008, but look at the flip-flop that we saw in the Finals last season. That was Gasol at his best WITH one big killer instinct. When you look at his array of skills at the offensive end of the floor, no one in history can claim to be the point center that he is (except Wilt), so I disagree that the tall, skinny shot blocking guys like Russell, Hakeem,Thurmond and even Kareem would have had any huge advantage over Pau in the low post. Dwight Howard didn't exactly have his way with Pau, right? That is why I think he will forever be an underrated "big," whatever position you want to attribute to him. Then again, a few more championships might change that perception of The Spaniard.

Who really cares about this STUFF, I don't.
Go Heat

KobeMVP888 - I got no problem with Pau continuing on this path to greatness. One thing that rarely gets mentioned is that he "fits" well with Kobe. It's hard to fit with a mega-superstar and shine yourself. It can be done, but it's always a hit-or-miss thing, and I wouldn't trade Pau for anyone in the league right now in that sense. His skills, his passing, his attitude, his BB IQ, all make him a perfect fit with Kobe. I don't think Dirk and Kobe would fit well. I'm not sure Melo and Kobe would be more effective. Kobe's a tough one.

Everyone fit around Magic because of his unique skill-set and size, etc., but Kobe is not so easy. It's why Lamar and Ron Ron are so great... they tailor their game to work around Kobe's. Mesh is a funny thing, and that's why Jerry & Mitch at GM are so great. They think about that sort of thing.

"Who really cares about this STUFF, I don't."

Spoken from a cat whose team needs to teach their "fans" how to cheer for them.

I hear ya- we have been blessed with a plethora of great players over the decades who've come over via free agency.

I also agree with your take on "Them Vultures." They should let Dave do more of the songwritting- he is truly a master musician.

They will never live down that embarrasing ad!!!!!!

Who really cares about you? We don't! Time to crawl back into your hole.

If were talking about Laker to mention her...

As far as Jeannie Buss...she will always be a babe...

@LRob - Thanks for the love man. I'm glad you liked it



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