A week and a half after Los Angeles Lakers team president and controlling owner Jeanie Buss inserted Magic Johnson as the team’s top basketball executive, she reportedly rebuffed a move made by two of her brothers — Jim Buss, the ex-vice president of basketball operations ousted to make room for Magic’s ascent, and Johnny Buss, the team’s vice president of strategic development — aimed at wresting away control of the franchise from their sister.
Attorneys for Jeanie Buss sought a temporary restraining order in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday to prevent the brothers from holding a meeting next week to elect a new board of directors for the team that didn’t include her. In order to be the controlling owner, she has to be a director. […]
The family trust that controls the team can elect three of the board’s five members.
The brothers withdrew the request Friday after Jeanie Buss asked for the restraining order. Her attorneys withdrew the motion for the restraining order, as well.
After the death of legendary Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss four years ago, Jeanie Buss took the reins of the franchise as its controlling owner, as reportedly dictated by the family trust set up by her father. There are six Buss siblings: Jim, Johnny, Jeanie, Janie, Jesse and Joey. All work in the organization in some capacity.
According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com, Jim, Johnny and Jeanie are the three trustees of the trust, which owns a 66 percent stake in the Lakers. Jim and Johnny argued that they constituted a 2-1 majority capable of electing new directors for the Lakers, and leaving Jeannie on the outside looking in.
That’s why Jeanie went to court, according to the Los Angeles Daily News:
In papers filed Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jeanie Buss maintains that her brother Johnny “with the active participation of [brother] Jim breached the express terms of the trust that require them to take all actions reasonably available to them to ensure that [Jeanie] remains the controlling owner of the Lakers.”
According to her court papers, Johnny Buss, also a part owner of the Lakers, recently sent notice to his sister that a proposed slate of four people for the Lakers board [that] included himself and his brother, but not Jeanie.
“By proposing four directors that excludes [Jeanie], Johnny has breached his mandatory obligations … to take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure the appointment of [Jeanie] as controlling owner,” her petition states.
So removing Jeanie Buss as a director would be in violation of the trust's provision that the controlling owner also be a director. Get it?
— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) March 3, 2017
Got it. (I think.)
After dropping their motion, Jim and Johnny canceled the planned “emergency meeting” scheduled for March 7 to elect new directors for the team, meaning — for now — things stay the way they’ve been. Jeanie stays put as the team’s president, controlling owner and director. Jim and Johnny remain part-owners, with Johnny still in place on the business side of the franchise’s operation and Jim, you’d imagine, still stewing over having been shown the door after presiding over a four-year stretch that has seen the Lakers plummet from the ranks of the NBA’s elite to one of its least successful teams, in keeping with the “if we’re not back in contention in three or four years, I’ll step down” ultimatum that he himself set forth in April of 2014. A probate court trial to resolve the matter is scheduled for May, according to Fenno and Plaschke.
And yet, it seems unlikely that this particular effort by the older brothers — which Jeanie’s lawyers claimed in court documents is “motivated as retaliation” — is the last word on the palace intrigue in the corridors of power at Staples Center.
“This is no doubt the beginning and not the end of the game-playing,” Adam Streisand, an attorney for Jeanie Buss, told The Times.
In other words — and, as always, when it comes to the drama-fueled Lakers — stay tuned.
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