Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

Category: Jeanie Buss

Gilbert Arenas reportedly works out for Lakers

Kobe Bryant--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin reports that Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak attended a private workout for free agent guard Gilbert Arenas while the Lakers were in Toronto.  Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowksi and Sports Illustrated's Sam Amick confirmed the news.

Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan explains why the Lakers played so poorly in their 94-92 win Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding focuses on the Lakers' nearly blowing an 18-point lead against Toronto.

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford credits Kobe Bryant for his game-winning shot against Toronto.

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan looks at the Lakers' struggles defending point guards.

--The Orange County Register's Ding presents a photo slideshow of his six-game trip.

--The Daily News' Teaford explains why Metta World Peace still has the green light to shoot.

Sidebars

--The Edmonton Journal's Bruce Arthur notices Bryant makes this game-winning shot thing sort of a routine.

--The National Post's Eric Koreen highlights Toronto's late-game unraveling.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Holly MacKenzie details the Lakers' "average" 3-3 trip.

Columns

--The Toronto Star's Cathal Kelly describes Bryant's mannerisms as rude and condescending.

Blogs

--True Hoop's Henry Abbott argues Bryant kills crunch time.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky breaks down the Lakers' victory over Toronto.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell provides a running diary of the Lakers-Raptors game.

--Silver Screen and Roll's C.A. Clark argues Bryant's game winner against Toronto rectified his poor play earlier in the game.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Zephid breaks down the good, bad and the ugly in the Lakers' win over Toronto.

Tweet of the Day: "Fans got Kobe & Bynum right 4 All Star. Asked Phil why coaches got it wrong not adding @paugasol. He said they must like small ball." -- JeanieBuss (Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss)

Rick Friedman Reader Comment of the Day: "In terms of the Lakers down the stretch, I want Kobe take game-winning shots in the final minute or final seconds, but he starts going into Mamba mode in the last five minutes of a game, which is way too early. He wants the ball on every possession down the stretch in the final five and that's hurting the Lakers. It's completely predictable by now. When they trailed by four, Pau finally had enough and drove the lane and dished to Bynum for a dunk. Why not do more of that? Kobe bailed the Lakers out, but he also put them in the hole." -- Fred Robledo

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Kobe Bryant elevates for what proved to be the game-winning shot over Raptors forward James Johnson with 4.2 seconds left in the game Sunday at Toronto. Credit: Nathan Denette / Associated Press / February 12, 2012

Shaquille O'Neal says Jerry Buss called about number retirement

Jerry BussThe interactions at times sparked contentiousness.

Shaquille O'Neal once yelled out in the middle of a pre-season game for Lakers owner Jerry Buss to "pay me." Skeptical of O'Neal's injury history and his $30-million-a-year asking price, Buss traded him in 2004. The immediate aftermath entailed Shaq taking swipes at Buss' playboy lifestyle.

That's all water under the bridge at this point. Once O'Neal announced his retirement June 1 after a storied yet underachieving 19-year career, Buss released a statement thanking Shaq for his contributions to the Lakers' three-peat (2000-2002). The Lakers also announced they would retire his No. 34 jersey at an undetermined time. And as O'Neal told radio/TV personality Dan Patrick on Tuesday morning, Buss has called Shaq directly about his number retirement. 

The same couldn't be said about former Lakers Coach Phil Jackson. Though Shaq told Patrick that Jackson was the best coach he ever played for, Jackson apparently didn't answer Shaq's phone call when he was in Los Angeles earlier this year.

Nonetheless, it appears old age, retirement and some revisionist history has allowed Shaq to view his Lakers run through rose-colored glasses. He's argued that the well-documented feud with Kobe Bryant was strictly a motivational ploy. Shaq's compliment toward Jackson contradicts his claim in 2006 when he boasted that Pat Riley was his best coach. And of course, Buss and O'Neal are now on speaking terms. 

But that's a good thing. Even if Shaq's fighting with Bryant, Jackson and Buss partly led to the Lakers prematurely breaking up a potential dynasty, they should at least look back with fondness on what O'Neal accomplished here. It's certainly warranted enough to earn a spot on the Staples Center rafters. 

RELATED:

Shaquille O'Neal gets statue at LSU, touts Lakers memories

Jerry Buss expresses appreciation for Shaquille O'Neal's presence with the Lakers

Lakers plan to retire Shaquille O'Neal's jersey number

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 

Magic Johnson, Chick Hearn and Jerry West statue inductions filled with emotion and humility

Magic-statue_350 Here is the ironic part about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's frustration over not having a statue: Magic Johnson tweeted Abdul-Jabbar deserved one "before me," Jerry West expressed embarrassment during his statue unveiling and argued others, including Abdul-Jabbar, were more deserving and the Lakers had long maintained Abdul-Jabbar soon would have one.

I can't properly describe the setting to Johnson's statue ceremony during All-Star weekend in 2004 because I wasn't there, but his public sentiments before and after reflected a much more thankful and humble outlook than Abdul-Jabbar's sentiments that his delayed statue induction symbolized one of many examples of what he called a "fractured" relationship with the Lakers.

A humble, reflective and appreciative atmosphere took place at both statue unveilings for the late legendary broadcaster Chick Hearn and Jerry West, the former Laker who brought the organization's first NBA championship in 1972 and later seven more as a general manager. One can only imagine what Hearn would've said about his own statue unveiling April 19, 2010, hours before a Lakers' playoff game at Staples Center, but there were plenty -- including his wife, Marge, Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, former Lakers James Worthy and Byron Scott, Lakers broadcaster Stu Lantz and Kings play-by-play announcer Bob Miller -- who filled in the details by offering endless stories about how Hearn's telecasts united the Lakers organization and fans.

Continue reading »

Lakers trying to restore order without losing composure

As if to provide reassuring signs that all is right in Lakerland, a subtle reminder he's monitoring his $91 million payroll or perhaps a mix of both, Lakers owner Jerry Buss took a quick stroll into practice Tuesday at the team's facility in El Segundo.

"It's normal," Lakers forward Ron Artest said of Buss' visit, which was mainly to speak with his daughter Jeanie Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president. "It's not like he never comes. He's come in training camp and a couple times of the season and sometimes to eat lunch. He doesn't have to be here to show support."

As if to remind the Lakers their 96-94 Game 1 loss Monday to the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference semifinals could've been nullified had they converted on a few single plays, Coach Phil Jackson instructed his reserves to be more patient passing the ball inside and highlighted Kobe Bryant's turnover on the second-to-last possession as evidence the result could've swung the other way.

"Everybody forgets about the game and [remembers], the Lakers held off Dallas in the second half," Jackson recalled saying. A single play or two like that can create it. But what we don't want to do is get mired back in that definition. We want to get back into what we do right as a basketball club.

Continue reading »

Spurs' Gregg Popovich to coach Western Conference All-Stars

Well, Phil Jackson's surely going to enjoy NBA All-Star weekend simply because he won't have to be there.

San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich will coach the West team in the All-Star game Feb. 20 at Staples Center after guiding the Spurs to the NBA's best record (38-7), which led Lakers Executive Vice President Jeanie Buss to joke last week to The Wall Street Journal that the Lakers had played inconsistently because Jackson wanted to avoid coaching in the All-Star game.

"I kind of think Phil likes not being in first place so he can get the weekend off," joked Buss, who is also Jackson's longtime girlfriend.

Jackson, who has coached four All-Star teams, has long made known his disdain for NBA All-Star weekend, so it wouldn't be surprising if he jokingly supported Buss' theory. After all, the only way he avoided coaching last year's team despite holding the conference's best record is that no one can coach in consecutive All-Star games.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Jeanie Buss shares a theory on the Lakers' struggles, talks about NBA contraction

Everyone can relax. There's a very specific reason why the Lakers (31-13) enter Friday's game against the Denver Nuggets mixing in winning streaks with inconsistent performances, have gone 5-6 against winning teams and trail the San Antonio Spurs (36-6) by six games in the Western Conference standings.

And, at least according to Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, the reason has little to do with inconsistent defense, offensive chemistry and effort.

"I hate to say this, but I think because they decide who's going to coach the All-Star team based on the standings on Jan. 30, so it looks like Gregg Popovich, the coach of San Antonio, is going to be the coach," Buss said. "I kind of think Phil [Jackson] likes not being in first place so he can get the weekend off."

Jackson, who's coached four All-Star teams, has long made known his disdain for NBA All-Star weekend, so it wouldn't be surprising if he jokingly supported Buss' theory. After all, the only way he avoided coaching last year's team despite holding the conference's best record is that no one can coach in consecutive All-Star games.

A more serious contention from Buss came regarding the collective bargaining agreement that expires June 30. She expressed optimism to the Journal regarding avoiding a potential lockout (a sentiment she also shared in November with The Times' Lakers blog), and expressed openness to the idea of contracting the numbering of NBA teams, a sentiment that Commissioner David Stern and LeBron James have endorsed but Lakers guard and National Basketball Players Assn. President Derek Fisher has questioned.

"I would hate to see us lose teams, but I think contraction is something we have to consider," said Buss, who's spending her first year with the league's labor relations committee. "We may be in some markets we shouldn't be in."

Buss also had some sympathy for Kobe Bryant, considering he's steadily climbed up the NBA's all-time scoring list. Bryant currently is in ninth place with 26,895 points and is on a pace to surpass at least Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946), Elvin Hayes (27,313), Moses Malone (27,409) and Shaquille O'Neal (28,580) during this season and next.

"Every game, it seems like he's breaking a different milestone," Buss said of Bryant. And they've projected, the way he's playing, [that] by the time he retires he can be in the top five in scoring. Any time you lose games due to a labor issue, that means he doesn't get to play games. That would really, really break my heart."

As it would for Bryant, but for different reasons. When asked about the $750 million to $800 million owners are seeking in reduced player salaries, he told CBSSports.com in mid-November that "they need to make the right judgment themselves and stop trying to force us players to be the ones to make adjustments. They've got to look in the mirror and decide what they want to do with the sport, and we as employees will show up and do what we've got to do."

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Caught in the Web: Reactions to Lakers' 101-94 victory over Thunder

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Housekeeping note: We're going to have a live chat at 1:30 p.m. today since the Lakers have a day off. Bring your questions then!

Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan details Kobe Bryant's leadership during the Lakers' 101-94 victory Monday over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding highlights the Lakers' intensity against OKC.

--The Oklahoman's John Rohde faults the Thunder's poor shooting in its loss to the Lakers.

--The Daily Breeze's Elliott Teaford credits the Lakers' late-game defense against the Thunder.

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan notes Ron Artest's joke about using his rescinded fine money to buy In-N-Out Burgers.

--The Riverside Press Enterprise's Jim Alexander features all of Artest's weird comments before the game.

--The Oklahoman's Rohde credits Russell Westbrook for managing 32 points despite playing with a bruised right foot.

--The Daily Breeze's Teaford also highlights Artest's take on the rescinded fine.

Sidebars

--The Times' Broderick Turner details Derek Fisher's improved shooting performance against the Thunder.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr notes the Lakers' promotional deal involving giving Laker fans to chance to watch a game courtside with executive vice president Jeanie Buss.

--Sports Illustrated's Zach Lowe breaks down the Western Conference playoff picture.

--Sports Illustrated's Britt Robson ranks the Lakers at No. 3.

Columns

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande wonders if the Thunder could ever win a playoff game at Staples Center.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin argues the Lakers' win against the Thunder was the most impressive of the season.

--Fox Sports' Billy Witz argues the Lakers' experience still trumps over the Thunder's youth.

Blogs

--Ball Don't Lie's Kelly Dwyer dissects the Lakers-Thunder box score.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky features Lakers' post-game video.

--ESPN Los Angeles' McMenamin breaks down the Lakers' victory.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell details the game in a running diary.

--Silver Screen and Roll's DexterFishmore explains how the Lakers absorbed Russell Westbrook's production.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Jeff Skibiski credits the Lakers' balance.

--The Daily Thunder's Royce Young criticizes OKC's three-point shooting.

--Lakers Nation's Nadya Avakian looks ahead to the rest of the team's schedule.

Tweet of the Day: "Day 6 or rehab a week outa surgery.. Evrythings going really well. Can't put my finger on when exactly ill be back BUT I'm pretty sure ... I won't b out the full 8weeks ... Mayb I stated that wrong, ill b bak when I'm a %100 & I dnt think it'll take me 8weeks.. Im n great hands with Judy @ the Kerlan Jobe center" -- Matt_Barnes22 (Lakers forward Matt Barnes)

Reader Comment of the Day: "Great game for Fish! I love the guy, but it has been hard watching him play for most of the year. Vintage D-Fish! That was a tough game! The Lakers played like they gave a crap. I like the on-court communication. Ron has his groove on. He played awesome D. Durant wasn’t going to light him up at Staples. Excellent! Pau woke up in the second half. When Kobe and Pau get it going at the end of games, they are almost impossible to stop. Drew got in foul trouble but played well. Lamar was his usual great self – usual for this year. Blake hit a shot! And it was a three! Luke was awesome off the bench. He was the only bench player with a positive +/-. We hit our 3’s, they didn’t… ;-) I am a Lakerholic." -- Lakerholic

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Thunder forward Kevin Durant provides help defense on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who was forced to pass on this drive in the first half Monday night. Credit: Alex Gallardo / Associated Press

Caught in the Web: Reactions to Lakers' 108-83 victory over Detroit Pistons

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Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan looks at all the drama entering the Lakers' 108-83 victory over the Detroit Pistons.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore notes that the Lakers overcame all the distractions for at least one game.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding details how the Lakers got back on track.

--The Detroit Free Press' Vince Ellis examines the Pistons' second-half meltdown.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen focuses on the Lakers' dominance over Detroit.

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan and myself report on the back-and-forth exchange between Mark Cuban, Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore highlights Jackson's belief that the Lakers are suffering a New Year's Eve hangover.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Lassen focuses on Jackson clarifying the Ron Artest situation.

Sidebars

--The Times' Kevin Baxter highlights Kobe Bryant surpassing Dominique Wilkins for 10th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

--ESPN.com's Ric Bucher reports that Lakers forward Pau Gasol missed the entire morning shootaround prior to a double-digit loss Sunday to Memphis.

--Hoopsworld's Eric Pincus describes Bryant's contention that the Lakers had worse issues to deal with in the 2001-02 season.

--Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Artest loudly confronted Jackson about the coach's public criticisms, an event Jackson confirmed but said wasn't loud.

--Fox Sports' Billy Witz reports Bryant's statement that he didn't plant the various stories surrounding Artest and Gasol.

Columns

--The Times' Bill Plaschke reports that Artest is far from happy about the leak of the story concerning his confrontation with Jackson.

--The Times' T.J. Simers criticizes some of Wojnarowski's reporting regarding the Artest-Jackson situation.

--The Orange County Register's Ding credits Bryant's pre-game speech.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin argues that the Lakers' defense could be their "salvation."

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Gregg Patton maintains that the Lakers' win against Detroit doesn't really cure anything.

Blogs

--The Times' Broderick Turner reports Shannon Brown won't participate in the slam dunk contest this year.

--Ball Don't Lie's Eric Freeman expresses amusement over three Lakers having faulty iPhone alarm clocks.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy Kamenetzky breaks down the Lakers' victory.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky analyzes a few Lakers statistics.

--NBA.com's Sekou Smith looks at all the Lakers' drama.

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell dissects the Lakers' victory with a running diary and postgame numbers.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano analyzes the Lakers' beatdown.

--Silver Screen and Rolls' DexterFishmore was impressed with the Lakers' performance.

Tweet of the Day: "THX DAD 4 BUYING ME SUCH A GOOD "GIFT"! >RT @LATimesLakers: Mark Cuban refers to Phil Jackson as Jeanie Buss' 'boy toy' http://lat.ms/dRPmdY -- JeanieBuss (Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss)

Reader Comment of the Day: "The Lakers looked like themselves last night ... not some bizarro mutant version of the Lakers." -- Jon K.

--Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Five things to take away from Lakers' 108-83 victory over Detroit Pistons

1. The Lakers' 108-83 victory Tuesday over Detroit meant very little, but at least it's a start. The Staples center crowd gave the Lakers a standing ovation as the game came to a close. Lakers guard Kobe Bryant chatted courtside with actor Tom Hanks in the final minutes. And the teammates exchanged high fives after well executed plays.

Yes, it was a much different tone for the Lakers (24-11) than say their double-digit loss to Memphis, which prompted boos from the crowd, a stoic demeanor among players and frustrated expressions all around after poor execution. But the Lakers shouldn't be lauded for this too much, considering Detroit (11-24) shouldn't have been in contention with the defending champions. But with so much deserved scrutiny over the Lakers' four losses in the past six games and numerous reports trickling out involving Ron Artest's confrontation with Phil Jackson, three players showing up to Sunday's morning shootaround late (Luke Walton, unnamed player) or not at all (Pau Gasol, who insisted later he was just late) and issues involving the team's nuanced view on Bryant's shot selection, the win serves as a welcome dose of good news.

But it's more important how the Lakers replicate their performance moving forward, considering Detroit's record, the team's game Wednesday at Phoenix and the team's sharp execution has only come in spurts following an 8-0 start.

There's a point in a game where you have the ability to stand up and start playing the kind of ball game where you make a stand," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson offered as a formula for replicating similar performances moving forward. "We're going to make a defensive stand or take an offensive position that crushes a team and opens up the game. It can happen at any place."

2. The Lakers made adjustments The event Jackson described in the first note took place immediately beginning in the third quarter, a good sign considering the Lakers maintained only a 45-42 halftime lead. The Lakers opened with Ron Artest hitting an open three-pointer, Pau Gasol creating a turnover and Derek Fisher also nailing a trey. Once Fisher hit a 20-foot jump shot to give the Lakers a 59-44 lead with 7:37 remaining, he and Bryant hugged at midcourt.

The difference between the first and second half stats prove drastically different including field goal percentage (40.4%, 54.8%) and field-goal percentage defense (51.6%, 39%). But that happened because the Lakers didn't fall to frustration. The Lakers pursued shortcuts when their execution didn't work at the beginning of games, further exacerbating the team's lacking fundamentals and focus. It's debatable whether Detroit should've even held ground in the first place, but the Lakers showed growth in not wallowing in their own shortcomings.

3. The Lakers played as a team. Whether it came after Bryant and Gasol executed a pick-and-roll, Steve Blake worked with Shannon Brown on an alley oop or anyone fed an entry pass inside, the Lakers offered plenty of sequences that prompted high fives.

The Lakers simply provided what their well-oiled machine should look like on a daily basis. Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom combined for 51 of the team's 108 points, revealing their increased aggressiveness in getting post position and the backcourt's increased emphasis on looking inside first. But their combined 22 rebounds also shows they found ways to remain engaged in the game even when the play didn't revolve around them. In addition to surpassing Dominique Wilkins on the NBA's all-time scoring list, Kobe Bryant recorded a near triple-double with 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, revealing he was equally effective in using his explosiveness to drive to the basket and punish Detroit for double teaming him. Bryant only went six of 18 and missed his first nine shots, but he showed enough awareness to still help the offense with a facilitating role.

There were also players such as Fisher and Artest who hit critical shots in the third quarter, but also established a defensive blueprint with Fisher's deflections and Artest's tenacious effort on Tayshaun Prince (who worked very hard for 12 points on four of eight shooting).

4. The Lakers appeared in better conditioningIn a 2 1/2 hour practice on Monday, Jackson had his players complete a drill he hadn't used since training camp. It involved the team scoring 82 layups from end line to end line within a two-minute span, a drill that took six attempts before successfully completing. It reaped immediate benefits with the Lakers looking more sharp with their passing and cutting, a huge reason why the Lakers only committed six turnovers after averaging 16.8 turnovers per game in the previous five contests. That created a trickle effect where the Lakers appeared more ready to stop the Pistons in transition, with the improved quickness and decreased turnovers holding Detroit to only six fast-break points.

5. The Lakers received needed restAfter the Lakers built a 76-59 lead entering the fourth quarter, all but Andrew Bynum sat out the rest of the way. It provided some entertaining aspects with Luke Walton drawing a technical for showboating after a jumper, Brown's alley oops and Joe Smith's first field goal as a Laker. There's very little of that to take from a big-picture standpoint. But with the Lakers playing Phoenix tonight, it's a good sign most of the Lakers' starters didn't have to log heavy minutes late in the game.

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

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

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

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

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