In sports, there’s always a story behind the story and unfortunately we rarely get to hear it. That’s why I enjoy books like Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four” or Jack McCallums “Seven Seconds or Less” where you truly get access, not the access that the PR departments of each team decide you can have.
For years I’ve always thought that Phil Jackson was going to step down strictly due to his health issues, but that was never the full story. After listening to Lakers Vice-President Jeannie Buss, who’s also Phil Jackson’s long time girlfriend, it turns out part of the reason Phil was going to step down was to give his long time protege Kurt Rambis a chance to coach the team. Rambis’ wife and Jeannie are BFF’s and the four of them always double date. Isn’t that sweet!
Jeannie Buss joined ESPN Radio Los Angelesto talk about Rambis taking the T’Wolves job and how Phil may now stay on the Lakers bench beyond his contract which ends this season.
Did you try to talk Rambis out of taking the Minnesota job:
“It was really with mixed emotions and it’s the same with Phil because he depends on Kurt so much. I was worried if Kurt left that it would be difficult for Phil to carry on. A lot of people are aware that when Phil had health problems he turned the team over to Kurt, he had 100% confidence in Kurt, and he had Kurt for the last two seasons be responsible for the defense.”
“Phil is so proud of Kurt and he knows that Kurt has the itch and it’s time for Kurt to be in charge and Phil knew he was ready for that and he wishes him well.”
“Phil has been feeling better. As a matter of fact something that I thought I’d never see in Phil again, he’s riding a motorcycle again. Phil is feeling healthy and maybe this is an opportunity for Phil to continue to stay with the Lakers…as he’s only under contract for next season, but given the success the team has had I’m hoping maybe now that Kurt has moved on Phil doesn’t feel the need to step down so that his protege has a chance. So maybe this all worked out for the best for everybody.”