Posts Tagged ‘Jeanie Buss’

PJax to the Knicks looks inevitable …

VIDEO: The Game Time crew talks Phil Jackson to the Knicks

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – All that’s left now is for Phil Jackson to send out the public smoke signal that he’s back, after all of these years, in the fold in New York.

Jackson and the Knicks, according to multiple sources, are working through the sticky points of a deal that would bring him back to the league in a front-office capacity, and not as coach of the Knicks (a job, mind you, that is currently occupied by Mike Woodson).

The latest report says that Jackson and the Knicks are expected to come to an agreement by week’s end, as’s Chris Broussard reports Tuesday morning.

Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks are expected to finalize a deal that will give the legendary coach control of the club’s front office by the end of this week, according to a league source.

“Everything is pretty much done,” the source said. “There are just some little things here and there that need to be worked out, but the Knicks are very confident that this is essentially done.”

An official announcement may not come until next week, the source said.

Make no mistake, though: it’ll take all of the legendary coach’s Zen powers to help fix what ails the Knicks. In short, they are a mess right now. A lame-duck coach. A superstar (Carmelo Anthony) basically being forced to consider his free-agent options elsewhere this summer. And a roster bogged down with so many bad assets that legendary front office maven Donnie Walsh (the man who once tried fixing this mess) couldn’t fix it all.

Most of us have no idea how Jackson will fare in a job he’s never actually done before. But when you’ve accumulated the sort of championship hardware he has over the years — he played on the Knicks’ 1970 and ’73 title teams and won 11 more titles as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers) — the benefit of the doubt is included in the compensation package.

VIDEO: NBA TV looks back on Phil Jackson’s legendary career

If anyone alive who has had a hand in the NBA game can clean up the mess that is the Knicks, it has to be Jackson. Be it good fortune or shrewd calculation, or a healthy dose of both and plenty of blind luck, Jackson always seems to find himself in the middle of championship-level success. Why wouldn’t the Knicks want to find themselves affiliated with the same things?

Jackson was supposed to be the savior in Los Angeles, where Kobe Bryant and the Lakers could use some divine intervention these days. But Jim Buss had other plans, ones that didn’t include retaining the services of his sister Jeanie‘s boyfriend in any capacity. (Ask the Lakers how that worked out.)

Now he’ll get the chance to see if his magic works from a different angle, as the man pulling the strings from on high as opposed to doing it with direct contact with the players. I defy anyone to challenge Jackson’s coaching credentials.

For all the grief he gets for having won with the likes of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in Chicago and Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant in L.A., among others, it should be noted that the only member of those Hall of Famers he coached that has won a title without him is Shaq. And remember, Shaq did so alongside Dwyane Wade and perhaps the only other coach (not named Gregg Popovich) of his generation to approach Jackson’s level, Heat boss and former coach of the Showtime Lakers, Pat Riley.

Jackson doesn’t have to sully his reputation by trying to salvage a Knicks team that is clearly beyond repair. But he could send his mythical aura into a new stratosphere if he were somehow able to clear the debris from the wreckage that is these Knicks and bring a championship flair back to Madison Square Garden.

That’s why Knicks owner James Dolan had no choice but to seek out the services of the one man whose name is synonymous with success, the one man whose mere mention sends fans into flights of fancy about championship parades … even when their haven’t been any such plans in the works for decades.

Anyone worried about this not working out for the Knicks in the long run clearly hasn’t paid attention to the tire fire that goes on in Manhattan on the regular. Everyone can worry about the minutiae later. Right now, it’s simply about convincing Jackson to share some of that good vibrations that have followed him throughout his career. If it ends horribly, as predicted here (and almost everything and everyone Dolan and the Knicks come in contact does), so what?

Jackson will still walk away unscathed. He’ll keep his spot on the Mount Rushmore of coaches in the history of organized sports and will still be a living legend in every corner of the basketball world.

Change isn’t always a good thing. But in this instance, it’s the only thing that can save the Knicks.

And the agent of that change, barring any last-minute surprises, appears to be none other than Phil Jackson, whose basketball life and career could come full circle with his reviving the franchise he helped win two titles a lifetime ago.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 139) Featuring Dr. Derek Ochiai And Trail Blazers’ Radio Voice Brian Wheeler

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — One superstar (Derrick Rose) is lost for yet another season while another (Kobe Bryant) is eyeing his return, after signing a robust contract extension that has set off a mini-controversy about how these things should be done.

Even in the midst of the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers putting on an absolute show during their respective win streaks, it’s hard to ignore the bigger issues facing both the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers on Thanksgiving Eve (yeah, we know it’s not an actual day but we make our own rules around here).

That’s why we didn’t on Episode 139 of The Hang Time Podcast, where we delve into the Rose drama with leading sports medicine doctor and surgeon Dr. Derek Ochiai and Brian Wheeler, the radio voice of the Portland Trail Blazers. We took care of the Kobe debate, of course, with a spirited conversation about the merits of paying an aging superstar like he’s in the prime of his Hall of Fame career.

We also delve into the long road ahead for Rose with Dr. Ochiai, the Arlington, Va, – based specialist whose insights into exactly what a torn medial meniscus injury means for an elite athlete like Rose as opposed to someone who is not of that ilk, you have to hear. And few people have a better perspective on the Trail Blazers and the rise of LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and the crew than Wheeler, who chronicles their every move on the air night after night.

You get all of that, plus Sounds of the Game, our this week’s installment of Braggin’ Rights (the champ is back on top this week) and Rick Fox‘s twisted Turkey Dynasty Call on Episode 139 of The Hang Time Podcast featuring Dr. Derek Ochiai and Trail Blazers’ radio voice Brian Wheeler:


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of,  Lang Whitaker of’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Kobe: Injury, Rehab ‘Relit Fire in Me’

VIDEO: Kobe talks extension about the process that led to his extension

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For a player whose Hall of Fame career has been defined by personal defiance, it shouldn’t shock any of us to hear Kobe Bryant talk about what motivates him now.

That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the Los Angeles Lakers’ star at his most defiant, in the wake of the backlash from him signing a two-year, $48.5 million extension Tuesday. That signing that brought out all sorts of non-believers and folks who don’t think he can come back completely from the Achilles tendon surgery cut short his 2012-13 season.

Defiant Kobe is far more entertaining than any other incarnation of the man who has been, in my opinion, the most polarizing NBA superstar of his generation and one of the most polarizing superstars ever.

It’s music to my ears to hear Kobe laugh off his haters and remind us all that no matter how bleak the outlook, he has the utmost confidence in himself and his ability. Even at this late stage of his career, he refuses to conform to conventional wisdom, the first step in trying to do the unthinkable and become exactly what he set out be many years ago: one of the NBA’s all-time greats.

So when he explains, to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, what keeps him going now, nearly two decades in and coming off of perhaps the most challenging obstacle in a career filled with them, it’s hard to be anything but intrigued by what makes the man tick:

“The Achilles, the rehab, it relit a fire in me, that’s for sure,” Bryant told Yahoo Sports. “I had been going so long, so long, putting in work – 17 years – and never taking a break, never taking time off. That’s a long time to push your body, especially the way I pushed mine.

“Every time I had to find that drive, I would eventually find it … somewhere. But it took a toll. Every summer, I’d finally find that push that would get me there. But it was getting harder to do.”

This is less about Kobe adoration — his legion of fans already have well under control — and more about the appreciation I have for a guy who continually finds new ways to motivate himself.

With all of his career accolades, Bryant could have easily walked away one title short of catching Michael Jordan. He could have said enough is enough, that his body had endured more than enough punishment. He’s already among the top four scorers in the history of the game. He has the titles and the individual and team achievements that would make some of the league’s greats jealous.

But that’s not enough for Kobe. It just doesn’t quite do it for him, which speaks to a level of competitiveness and (and, some might argue, borderline-crazy) focus that elevates him into a realm that only a few players with the talent, desire, work ethic and good fortune have ever possessed.

The Lakers — from Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss to GM Mitch Kupchak to the millions of fans in and around the Southland and around the world — recognize that laser focus. They’ve witnessed it for years. They understand that the $48.5 million Kobe will earn in his extension is a relatively reasonable price tag for qualities that are priceless in most any other walk of life.

Kobe is a revenue-generator the likes of which few franchises, cities and their fan bases have ever experienced. (Lakers fans from the Showtime era, Boston Celtics fans from the Larry Bird era and Bulls fans from the Jordan era certainly know what I’m talking about.)

He toils in an environment where the folks who pay extremely large sums to watch him are the only people who can truly comprehend what it’s like to entertain the way he’s asked to. While the other non-NBA Hollywood types might be lucky to star in one or two movies a year or on a TV show that runs 10-12 episodes a season, Kobe is expected to be a star 82 nights a year.

Ultimately, it’s not about the adoring public, the haters or what either of those groups think. It’s not my money or yours. The Lakers are the ones on the hook for paying Bryant, whether he comes back as a shell of the player he was or as the “Black Mamba” we all know. They’re the ones who have to, as Rasheed Wallace infamously said, “cut the check.”

And as Woj pointed out, they didn’t flinch (publicly, at least):

The Los Angeles Lakers still believe in Kobe Bryant, and this means the world to him. Of course, the money matters, and it always will to him. He hadn’t come to Washington, D.C., to make a concession speech, only to thank the Busses for the leap of faith and declare himself closer to his return. Between a news conference and the next steps in his rehab on Tuesday night, Kobe Bryant was still raging over the response to his contract extension. This wasn’t a noble gesture to awaken his peers, but simply a visceral reaction to the way the NBA has slowly, surely eroded the superstar’s standing in the sport – and the way the players have allowed it to happen.

“Bull—-,” Kobe Bryant finally again said on his way back to the locker room. “Pure bull—-.”

Defiant Kobe at his best!

Buss, Lakers Need To Let Dwight Go


HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Sooner or later, the Los Angeles Lakers will move on from the pain and suffering associated with the brief Dwight Howard era — later being the operative word here. Because once again, the drama is being stirred by someone in the Lakers’ camp in regards to Howard and just how authentic a Laker he was in his one season in L.A.

Lakers executive vice president Jim Buss fires the latest verbal shot at Howard in an article in The Hollywood Reporter by Ric Bucher that examines the fabled franchise and their current state of affairs in the post-Dr. Jerry Buss era. Times have certainly changed:

Jim insists he’s just following his father’s blueprint, but the Howard situation suggests he missed a page. Instead of Jim spending time with Howard, the team launched a widely derided media campaign that implored “Stay” on billboards. After Howard bolted, Jim turned on his former star, saying he wasn’t surprised or dismayed. “He was never really a Laker,” says Jim. “He was just passing through.”

Those close to Howard say the Lakers could have persuaded him to stay. Even Jeanie believes that if her father had not been sick, he would have sealed the deal like so many before it. “It’s disappointing that Dwight isn’t here,” she says. “I feel like we failed him.”

Clearly, Jim, Jeanie Buss, Kobe Bryant, Magic JohnsonPhil Jackson and anyone else who has ever been associated with the franchise is being asked about Howard incessantly. A simple no comment is in order now. The continued examination and assault on Howard’s character has bordered on ridiculous for weeks now.

Bottom line: the Lakers aren’t doing themselves any favors by answering every question about Howard. He’s moved on to whatever the future holds in Houston. The Lakers need to move on as well. They need to let him go, set themselves free from this drama and concentrate all of their effort on the very real rebuilding campaign that needs to be begin with training camp.

And for the record, they knew that there was a very real possibility that Dwight was “just passing through” when they acquired him via that blockbuster trade last summer. There was always that inherent risk with a player with Howard’s track record. Their miscalculations, their choices (Mike D’Antoni over Jackson to replace coach Mike Brown) are what made the situation untenable for Howard when free agency hit. So blaming him in hindsight for not falling for the disingenuous “stick around, we love you” campaign is weak.

This talk now is just as beneath the Lakers as the whole billboard campaign was when they were trying to convince Howard to stay.

To her credit, Jeanie Buss takes a much more measured approach to this whole thing and it is her words, her tact and, ultimately, her voice that should rule the day inside the franchise on Howard. I’m sure her sensibilities were offended when Howard spurned the Lakers for the Rockets. But you can tell by her response. She insists that the Lakers somehow didn’t handle their business the way should have, the way they would have if her father was spearheading the recruiting charge.

She’s right. Things likely would have been different.

But the Lakers cannot dwell on what might have been anymore. They have to move on and get back to the grind, the same way Howard has in Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale.

The Lakers need to let Dwight go once and for all.

Phil Talks “Eleven Rings,” Phantom 12th


CHICAGO – Phil Jackson has been hitting it hard on his book tour this week, talking up his latest work on late-night TV and national radio broadcasts. Still, in a spate of appearances in the city where his unparalleled NBA coaching success began, the talk invariably has veered back to the one that got away.

The book is titled “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success” (Penguin Press, 2013). People in Chicago, where rings are hard to come by, still wonder about that missing 12th.

Oh, there wasn’t much Jackson or anyone else with the Bulls could do about the 1994 and ’95 NBA titles seized by Houston during the first of Michael Jordan‘s three NBA retirements. And no one in the audience Thursday night at the Palmer House Hilton, where Jackson appeared as part of the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row literary series, cared much about the Lakers’ failure to win again in 2011 and finish off what would have been Jackson’s fourth three-peat.

But many in the Windy City crowd of about 750 wanted to know: What about 1999? That was the NBA’s first lockout-shortened season, a schedule that seemed perfect for a veteran-laden team like the Bulls.

And yet, they didn’t even try. The band broke up, the run was over. Jackson famously rode off on a fat motorcycle and Chicago’s NBA team all but went dark for the next half dozen seasons.

W-w-w-what happened?

Phil Jackson talks with the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson (right) during an in interview in Chicago.

Coach Phil Jackson talks with the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson (right) as he discusses his new book, ‘Eleven Rings’, and his long NBA career. (Courtesy Chicago Tribune)

“I know how hard it is, so many people in Chicago say, ‘You could have continued to win,’ ” Jackson told the audience. “Yes – maybe.”

Ultimately it was Jerry Krause, the Bulls’ determined general manager, who brought that run to its end, the Hall of Fame former coach said.

As stubborn as Jackson or Jordan (and often butting heads with both), Krause had made it clear to the Bulls coach that his run there was over. Team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf asked him to return but Jackson declined. “I just felt our relationship had deteriorated such that, for me to come back, it would be too difficult for Jerry Krause.”

That was the first domino. Jordan didn’t want to play for another coach and, besides, he cut his finger – with a cigar cutter, the story went – badly enough to need surgery. Dennis Rodman essentially was done as an NBA player. Scottie Pippen, Luc Longley and Steve Kerr went elsewhere to get paid better than in their Chicago stays.

It’s doubtful Krause would fill a downtown ballroom on a night the NHL Blackhawks were active in the Stanley Cup playoffs, touting a book titled “Organizations Win Rings” or something like that.

“Right up until the end, we worked well together,” Jackson said, after acknowledging their different temperaments. “We had a wonderful time as a team for three years and we really appreciated it.” (more…)

Lakers Say Future’s Clear Even Without Jerry Buss At Helm



The plan was put into motion years ago, in anticipation of Jerry Buss one day completely stepping aside as Lakers owner or his passing. One of his six children, Jim, would be in charge of basketball operations and another, Jeanie, would run the business side and cast the vote for the Board of Governors.

The patriarch set everything up in advance. Not only that, he set it up far enough in advance that both would be experienced in the roles before he was gone, with Jeanie now in her 14th season as executive vice president of business operations and Jim in his eighth as executive vice president of player personnel. There should not be any uncertainty moving forward.

Except that now Buss is gone and there are questions.

Part of the wondering, despite all Jerry Buss had arranged, down to how any very unlikely future sale of the controlling interest would have to work, is easy to explain: It’s the Lakers. Little things become very big deals in that alternate universe. And the passing of the smart, respected owner on Monday at age 80 is not a little thing.

It is also the timing. The Lakers are underachieving at historic levels. There has already been one coaching change, away from Mike Brown, and there are serious doubts the system of successor, Mike D’Antoni will work with this roster. The trade deadline is Thursday, though there is no indication the organization is debating a serious move that would involve taking on enough money that basketball would need to sync with business. Dwight Howard becomes a free agent in a little more than four months. This is not a time of stability on the court, and now one of the few constants, Jerry Buss, is also gone, so concern among fans increases even more.

The rocky history among the siblings, a well-known secret around the organization, is a dynamic that cannot be ignored. Specifically, as many press reports have noted in as delicate of terms as possible in this time of sympathy for the family, Jeanie and Jim have not gotten along.

And now they are the primary partners determining the future of the Lakers.

Monday, after the death had been announced, John Black, the vice president of public relations for the team, and family spokesman Bob Steiner held a news conference. They answered questions on what happened long ago (favorite Jerry Buss memories), what had just happened (some details of his passing) and what will happen next. They projected the image of a seamless transition.

“If it’s a basketball-operations decision, it’ll be Jim,” Black said.

But, a reporter suggested, doesn’t the business side play into that as well?

Black and Steiner paused.

“It was re-emphasized to John and I this morning,” Steiner said, “that basketball people will make the basketball decisions.”

They were pressed again: What happens if the basketball decisions start impacting the overall business, as can obviously happen?

“Jim Buss understands the business element, Jeanie understands basketball,” Steiner said. “They will work together. I don’t know, does that answer the question?… I just want to re-iterate that they are their father’s children. They do understand the business and the sports elements.”

The departments were separate yet connected for years, just as with every team, only with Jerry Buss available to step in as the final word. That does not exist anymore. There are two people who may at some point be called on to make one decision.

There may even be three people – Jeanie is engaged to Phil Jackson. That could become an additional factor in the thinking in business ops and what basketball moves should be funded beyond the budget.

While Jerry Buss had said for years that Jeanie had final say over her departments for many years, he estimated in 2010 that Jim was in charge of all things basketball about 80 percent of the time. That number obviously increased the past couple seasons, as Jerry stopped attending games as his health worsened and increasingly moved away from day-to-day operations, though still presumably willing to share an opinion on major roster decisions such as trading for Howard or the 2009 extension for Pau Gasol.

Buss said nearly three years ago his responses to questions from Jim were usually along the lines of “Do what you think is best.” He wanted his son to be in control. It just may not have always been the case. Jim, after all, insisted in early November that Brown would not take the fall for a bad start, just before Brown took the fall in early-November for a bad start.

Jim Buss didn’t have to make such a strong statement that Brown was safe. He doesn’t do many interviews and so it wouldn’t have been unusual for him to do one then. But to say Brown would be staying, to soon fire Brown, and to bring in D’Antoni to implement the closest thing to Showtime in the current NBA all pointed to Jerry Buss getting involved.

Now, the patriarch is gone. There is Jim Buss with general manager Mitch Kupchak, and Jeanie Buss, and there is a plan.

Report: No Comeback For Phil Jackson

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Any dreams Brooklyn Nets fans had of Phil Jackson taking over this season were essentially dashed by the Zen Master himself tonight, per a report.

In fact, Jackson wasn’t even more emphatic about his coaching future, insisting that he will not coach again:

“I have no intention of ever coaching again,” Jackson told in a brief statement.

He offered no elaboration, nor any details of how hard — if at all — the Brooklyn Nets had pushed to bring him in as the permanent replacement for Avery Johnson, who was fired last month.

But he also did not use the word “retired,” and his use of the word “intention” will be seen by many as a hedge. Moreover, the quote was similar to what Jackson said when he left the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011.

Jackson was the one and only long-term coaching target of the Nets, who are now expected to keep P.J. Carlesimo in the job for the remainder of the regular season. The team is 5-1 since Carlesimo took over, losing only to the San Antonio Spurs.

So while Jackson’s “intention” is to never coach again, he could always change his mind at the conclusion of this season. For now, things should remain peaceful around the Zen Master for the remainder of winter and spring.

Jackson comment to SheridanHoops was his first public statement of the season, and the hedge therein will undoubtedly lead others to contact him in the future. The scuttlebutt around the league Tuesday was that Jackson was in demand and another team — other than Brooklyn, and other than the Lakers — had recently inquired about Jackson’s availability.

Jackson’s had a busy season for a guy who has no intention of coaching again. First he was courted and passed over for the vacant coaching job with his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers. They chose Mike D’Antoni instead.

But as Chris Sheridan points out, the rumblings surrounding the recently engaged (to longtime girlfriend and Lakers executive Jeanie Buss) Jackson have him returning in a front office capacity if he does return to the NBA at all.

With his coaching legacy already set in stone, there is really nothing left for Jackson to prove in that realm. The only basketball frontier he has left to explore and conquer is working in the front office, which remains a very real possibility.

Kareem’s Staples Statue Long Overdue!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We don’t need a specific date or even a time and place we need to be when it happens, just the news that the Los Angeles Lakers plan to unveil a statue for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at some point during the 2012-13 season (per The Los Angeles Times)  is enough for us here at the hideout.

This notion that Abdul-Jabbar is being thrown a bone by the Lakers to pacify him or to quiet him, after years of public rancor between the two sides and other outside observers, is for someone else to argue.

We’re focused solely on the fact that he remains the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and should be prominently featured in any historical basketball text as the greatest big man and arguably the greatest player of all time.

We have no problem with the Lakers honoring others ahead of Abdul-Jabbar. Magic Johnson, Chick Hearn and Jerry West deserve whatever praise and hardware comes their way in Los Angeles. Whatever they do for Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal will be well-deserved as well. But if they want to make sure Star Plaza at Staples Center is legitimate, Abdul-Jabbar must be a part of the montage.

We are talking about a man who played 14 of his 20 NBA seasons with the Lakers before retiring in 1989. He also spent four years in Los Angeles before entering the NBA, leading UCLA to three straight NCAA titles (the school could have beaten the Lakers to the punch and come up with some way of honoring their greatest hoops legend by now, but that’s a conversation for another time).

As The Times story points out, things haven’t always been smooth between Abdul-Jabbar and the Lakers in recent years:

Abdul-Jabbar publicly criticized the Lakers last year, saying the failure to erect a statue of him sooner was a show of disrespect. His contract as a special assistant coach ran out in 2011 and he voiced various complaints: He had been asked to take a pay cut, the Lakers had not awarded him playoff shares as a coach, and he cited his reduced role as a coach for Andrew Bynum from 2005 to 2009.


PJax To Orlando Talks Back On?

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – Maybe this Phil Jackson-to-the-Orlando Magic idea has legs after all.

A week after it was reported that Jackson had withdrawn himself from consideration to join the Magic in some front office capacity, Sam Amick of reports that the talks are still alive, but with a few new and interesting twists:

Former Charlotte coach Sam Vincent, who played for the Bulls during Jackson’s days as an assistant in Chicago and also played for the Magic, continues to captain the cause that would have Jackson work remotely (likely from Los Angeles, where his longtime girlfriend, Jeanie Buss, remains with the Lakers) most of the time. Vincent would operate in a front-office role in the plan, while the team would be coached by a protégé (or two) of Jackson’s.

According to the sources, the latest version of the proposal has Pacers assistant and ex-Lakers assistant Brian Shaw coaching the team and Hall of Famer and Bulls ambassador Scottie Pippen as the lead assistant. And as if Jackson’s potential price tag wasn’t daunting enough (he earned $12 million in his last year with the Lakers), one of the sources said he is asking for a slice of minority ownership in the franchise as well. The hope, of course, would be for Jackson to use his cachet to convince Dwight Howard to remain in Orlando for the long-term. Jackson’s agent, Todd Musburger, did not return a call for comment.


Lakers Circus — Day 3

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Ron Artest is the featured guest on Day 3 of the Lakers’ Traveling Circus.

When Lakers coach Phil Jackson isn’t passing out books, publicly coaching his star players or trading barbs with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who referred to Jackson as Jeanie Buss‘ “boy toy,” he is throwing up his dukes at practice with Artest.

Fine, so we put a little frosting on that last part. But Jackson did confirm the reported altercation with Artest, though he disputed the tenor of the altercation and the way it was initially described.

Of course, Artest was not a happy man when his name showed up on the LTC blotter.

He also confirmed the shouting match between he and Jackson. But he also reminded everyone, including HT fave Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times, that he’s done everything in his power to avoid these sorts of conflicts and public spats since joining the Lakers:

Before Tuesday’s 108-83 victory over the Detroit Pistons, Artest was as lost in the locker room as he has been on the court, clearly upset that news of his standoff with Jackson was leaked.

“I’ve worked too hard to have something like this come out,” Artest said, shaking his head. “My image is very important to me — whatever image I have left — and this hurts, this really hurts.”

He added, “I’ve tried so hard not to be part of any controversy, not to be part of any conflict, for this to come out now, that’s weird, and it’s really hard.”

He was so upset that, as reporters were leaving the interview, he asked them to enhance his emotions.

“Put tears around those quotes, OK?” he said.

Win or lose these days, the Lakers’ in-house affairs are a mess.

Even messier when they get Wiki-leaked for all our viewing pleasure.

But unlike Kobe Bryant, who is used to dealing with Jackson’s motivational tactics, someone will have to mend fences with Artest or risk losing the man who saved the Lakers’ title hopes in Game 7 of The Finals last season.