At the time, Lakers vice president Jim Buss caught most of the heat. After all, fans and media alike figured that it was his decision to go with D'Antoni due to Jerry Buss' failing health at the time.
Nearly a year later, Jim Buss is saying that's not right. That it was actually his late father Jerry (who passed away in February) who made the call.
Here's what Jim Buss had to say to ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne regarding Jackson.
Jim Buss said his father made final call on D'Antoni b/c "in the future we had to rebuild, he felt that Phil was not a guy to rebuild."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) September 11, 2013
Jim Buss on @jeaniebuss & Phil: "I'm compassionate. I wish I could do something about that, but this was a biz decision made by our father"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) September 11, 2013
Jim Buss on @PhilJackson11 "I consider Phil family. If he wants to work with me on a consultant basis, I'm all for it."— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) September 11, 2013
Jim Buss gave even more details of D'Antoni's hiring in Shelburne's write up for ESPN Los Angeles.
"My dad said, 'You know what? D'Antoni's the guy. I've always liked him. Showtime. I think it will be fun basketball as we make the transition [from the Kobe Bryant era],' " Jim said.
He said his father also told them to hire D'Antoni quickly.
"He said, 'Do it by Sunday night,' " Buss said. "He wanted to get it done before the weekend was over."
Of course with Jerry gone, it's impossible to know how much of this is true. Last November, we heard quite the opposite, and there were reports that Jackson requested Buss relinquish all control if Jim wanted him to accept the Lakers offer.
After the decision was made, Staples Center filled with, "We Want Phil" chants.
And Jim Buss caught most of the heat. However, he says that he was ready for it, in part because his father told him it would be coming.
Once again from Shelburne.
Jim Buss said his dad warned that he was "going to get pelted" when he took over. Jim told him that's fine as long as "you believe in me"— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) September 11, 2013
This whole conversation seems a bit strange. Is it really believable that Jerry Buss decided to go the rebuilding route with D'Antoni less than ten games into a season that had such high expectations? Just seems like a really strange decision.
As for when Lakers fans will embrace Jim?
Don't count on it happening any time soon. Jerry Buss' legacy is as one of the greatest owners in professional sports history. As of now, Jim's is simply as that owners son, the one who inherited the team.
Of course, winning cures a lot of things. But until the Lakers return to prominence, there will be no love for Jim Buss in Lakerland.