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Shaq, Kobe to Buss Family: Don't sell the Lakers

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Shaq, Kobe to Buss Family: Don't sell the Lakers
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Despite a dismal season and dwindling ticket sales, the Buss family should ignore calls to sell the Los Angeles Lakers, team superstars Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal recently told CNBC.

The National Basketball Association club won 10 championships under longtime majority owner Jerry Buss, who controlled the franchise from 1979-2013. When Buss died in February 2013, however, his controlling interest in the Lakers was passed on to his six children via a trust managed by sons Johnny and Jim as well as daughter Jeanie.

The Lakers' performance under the new management has been anything but impressive. With a 27-55 record, the team struggled in the 2013-2014 season, finishing in last place in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference.

In a recent interview with CNBC's Kelly Evans and Bill Griffeth on " Closing Bell ," however, Bryant was empathetic to the Buss family's task of returning the team to its former glory.

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"It's a tough period. You're talking about one of the greatest owners, if not the greatest owner of all time in any sport and so it's a tough act to follow," said Bryant, the Lakers' star shooting guard, who missed the end of the 2013-2014 season with a fractured left knee.

"So now you have the adjustment period where you have to figure out, you know, what the leadership style is going to be going forward; what our culture is going to be going forward and that takes a little time, but we'll get there, though."

Fans seem to be growing disenchanted with the team's losing streak, too, as ticket sales at the Staples Center have been declining, the Los Angeles Times reported.

And then there was that whole thing with Phil Jackson, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Lakers to three consecutive championships between 2000 to 2002.

Former Lakers great Earvin "Magic" Johnson, along with Bryant and others, spoke in favor of Jackson returning to the organization last season. But the Buss family passed over Jackson and named Mike D'Antoni head coach instead. Last month, the New York Knicks brought Jackson on as president, further irking some Lakers fans.

To O'Neal, it's critical the Lakers simply "put the right people in place."

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"I've always thrived on hiring people smarter than me. Jim is capable, of course. Jeanie is capable," said O'Neal in an interview from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on "Closing Bell." "But you know where they thrived was where they hired the Jerry Wests, the Bill Sharmans, other people like that."

West was a 14-time All-Star, who spent his entire playing career with the Lakers, and led the team to the 1972 championship. West is probably best known for his managing career, though, in which he served as head coach, scout and general manager of the Lakers. Under his reign, West led the team to six championships.

Sharman picked up one championship as head coach of the Lakers and as team general manager and president was involved in the 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988 championship teams.

Finding the next great talent will be key to the Lakers future success, O'Neal said.

"So I think it's, you know, time they evaluate and maybe hire somebody smarter or, you know, do things a little different."

-By CNBC's Drew Sandholm .



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