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Jeanie Buss Plans for Lakers to Remain Competitive: My Father 'Never' Tanked

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 30, 2022

AP Photo/Danny Moloshok

There are various philosophies and team-building strategies in the NBA when it comes to constructing a championship roster.

One approach has been for teams to bottom out, collect as many draft assets as possible and acquire young, star players to build around. But for the Los Angeles Lakers and controlling governor and president Jeanie Buss, tanking isn't in the organization's DNA.

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β€œMy father never [tanked] in 32 years”<br><br>Jeanie Buss breaks down why she'll always try to put the Lakers in a position to succeed <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LakeShow?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LakeShow</a><a href="https://twitter.com/JeanieBuss?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JeanieBuss</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/Jumpshot8?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JumpShot8</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/DarthAmin?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DarthAmin</a> <a href="https://t.co/sISzrwIuM6">pic.twitter.com/sISzrwIuM6</a>

"My dad never did that in 32 years," Buss said on SiriusXM Radio. "So, it's just not the way he would have seen the Lakers brand, to be at the bottom of the standings, year after year. He always felt that the fans invested their time and their money in your team, and you have to perform for them. And if you don't, then they're going to move on and find something else to spend their time and money on. They deserve to have a quality product, and nobody can promise a championship every year, but again, unless you're in the playoffs, you're not going to have a chance to win. So I like to have the team be in a position to compete for championships, year in and year out."

While the Lakers may not have ever intended to tank, they certainly had some lean years between the Kobe Bryant era and LeBron James' decision to sign with the team in the summer of 2018.

Between the 2013-14 and 2018-19 seasons, the Lakers failed to make the playoffs and didn't have a winning record. That era was marked by trying to develop young players like Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, among others, though all except Randle were eventually traded (Randle signed with the New Orleans Pelicans in free agency).

But the Lakers' strategy to team-building has long been to land superstar players by whatever means necessary and attempt to put a championship-level roster around them. And from Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe and now LeBron and Anthony Davis, the Lakers have done well to keep the superstar pump primed.

Given that the Lakers have won 11 titles since the 1979-80 season, Dr. Jerry Buss' first season as the team's governor, it's a strategy that has paid off. While it helps to play in a destination city like Los Angeles, the Lakers have built a far more glamorous brand than their neighbors, the Los Angeles Clippers.

So it makes sense that Jeanie Buss would view tanking as antithetical to the team's overall brand and mystique. Before the malaise that followed Bryant's retirement, the team had only missed the playoffs four times since making the move to Los Angeles in 1960.

The Lakers are a glamour franchise. Losing, even if done so for strategic purposes, sort of kills the vibe.

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