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Phil Jackson, Jeanie Buss express amusement over Mark Cuban's comment about Jackson being "Jeanie's boy toy"

January 4, 2011 |  7:40 pm

Both Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and executive vice president Jeanie Buss consider it a compliment.

Upon hearing Jackson's contention that a season-ending knee injury to Dallas forward Caron Butler would have a severe impact on the team's success, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban took a dig at the relationship between Jackson and Buss, his longtime girlfriend.

"I love that Jeanie Buss' boy toy had something to say about us," Cuban told reporters. "I don't know if it was his thought or Jeanie's thought, but it's nice to know that she lets him speak in public about other teams."

Both Jackson and Buss fired back and seemed to enjoy the back-and-forth of it all. Jackson smiled and said, "I love it. "I consider myself an old man. I'm a boy toy? That's terrific."

In a brief moment outside the Lakers' locker room, Buss responded, "It's like saying, let's make fun of Phil, like, 'You're old' or 'You're tall.' It's like, 'That's all you can come up with? I got a kick out of it, but maybe Mark just did it to make me giggle. I am Madonna now and Phil is my boy toy."

Jackson has had his fair share of verbal spars through the media in his coaching career, including some this season. He suggested the job security of Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra could be in jeopardy after the Heat's poor start, citing Stan Van Gundy's departure in 2006. He questioned jokingly Rudy Tomjanovich's Hall of Fame credentials, arguing the former Rockets coach wouldn't have won NBA titles in 1994 and 1995 had Michael Jordan not retired. And he's taken a few digs at his own players too, ranging from Kobe Bryant's shot selection, Pau Gasol's toughness and Ron Artest's goofy off-court antics, a subject Jackson acknowledged led to a conversation at a recent practice that entailed Artest asking Jackson to stop.

Buss said she wasn't aware of Artest's confrontation with Jackson, but she shared a theory on why his public comments elicit strong reactions.

"I think it's because Phil has been so successful," Buss said. "When he says something about somebody, you feel defensive. I don't know. I think Mark Cuban is smart enough to know that he has an opportunity for a good sound bite to get into a jib jab with Phil over funny little sound bites."

But when asked if Buss would like to offer a few jabs of her own to Cuban, she smiled and declined.

"I'm not going to get into the gamesmanship," she said. "I know when I go to the league meetings, I usually sit next to Mark and we always have a good laugh about stuff. I don't get involved. They can do the sound bites -- the two of those guys. That's their job. I get along with both of them."

And Jackson was more than happy to facilitate that role. 

"Mark gets riled up when I make comments about his team. They are leading, they were leading the league," Jackson said of Dallas (25-8), which sits second in the Western Conference by 3 1/2 games behind the San Antonio Spurs and  is 2 1/2 games ahead of the Lakers. "It's a big blow to a team that's playing that well."

--Mark Medina

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