Lakers' Jeanie Buss Shares Racist Letter from Fan; 'We All Must Do Better'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2020

Jeanie Buss sits at the unveiling of Shaquille O'Neal's statue in front of Staples Center, Friday, March 24, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss shared a racist letter sent to her by a fan in an Instagram post Friday.

The letter said: "Dear w---e, After 60 years as a huge Lakers fan, I now say to hell with the overpaid n----r traitors and the NBA. Go to hell and join [redacted] Kobe Bryant." 

Buss explained she felt it was important to share the letter: "I have received letters like this over the years. The advice I always got? 'Ignore it.' I did. But not anymore. On this day, Juneteenth, I ask my white friends to join together, acknowledge the racism that exists in our country and around the world, and pledge to stop ignoring it. We all must do better."

Buss has essentially been part of the Lakers organization in some way since 1979 when her late father, Jerry Buss, bought the team. Since Jerry's death in 2013, Jeanie became the Lakers' controlling owner.

Buss also wrote the following in another portion of her post:

"After much thought, I decided to share this letter I received on Monday so that everyone can see the hate is real and living out there. This is happening in our world TODAY. Its real and it exists. To Joe: Did sending this letter make you feel better? Really all you did was waste your time, and energy and your postage stamp. (But thank you for including your return home address) Why don't you look in the mirror and see your ugliness because I refuse to."

The post caught the attention of Lakers superstar LeBron James, who responded by posting "Love you Jeanie" in an Instagram story, along with a middle finger emoji directed at the fan.

The 2019-20 season remains in question after it was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The NBA has a plan in place to resume play in Orlando, Florida, next month, and the National Basketball Players Association approved it.

It isn't yet guaranteed that play will resume, however, as ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving spoke on a call that included nearly 100 players and gave an "impassioned plea" to sit out the rest of the season and focus on social reform.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported that Irving said: "I don't support going into Orlando. I'm not with the systematic racism and the bulls--t. Something smells a little fishy."

Charania noted Kyrie also said: "I'm willing to give up everything I have [for social reform]."

Protests have taken place across the United States since May 25, when 46-year-old black man George Floyd was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis. The protests have been in opposition of racial inequality, police brutality and social injustice.

Wojnarowski reported that some players indicated they would be willing to sit out the rest of the season, but others have suggested that the majority of players want to return to action.

Houston Rockets guard Austin Rivers opposed Irving's post in an Instagram post, and Lakers guard Danny Green told Mark Medina of USA Today that "most guys wanted the season to come back."

If the season does resume, games will start to be played July 30, and after each of the remaining 22 teams play eight games each, the playoffs will commence.

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