The Winning Legacy of World Champions

Jeanie is certainly a powerful, if not the most powerful, woman in sports. She calls the shots, attending the NBA owner meetings where she is often the only woman in the room, but she is careful not to let that define her. “I think that if you define yourself by your gender, then that limits you. Women should never think, ok, what’s a good career for a woman? You have to look at things as gender-neutral or else it puts a limit on what you can accomplish. …You pursue your dreams based on what your passion is, not what society would dictate for you. Sports is a great business and it’s a competitive business. If you think that being a woman is a weakness, then it will be used against you. There is nothing weak about being a woman. In this competitive business, people will use whatever weakness they sense in you to get an upper hand. So if you go into something thinking that you have a disadvantage, then they will use that and it will become a disadvantage.”

These sage life lessons will be included in her forthcoming book, Laker Girl, due out in the fall. She says it will read like a diary of the past season detailing milestones from the 2009 championship team’s White House visit in January right on down to the 2010 team’s championship parade, interspersed with the history of how she climbed the ranks to the high-profile position she now holds.

When she does need advice, she turns to her father, who is still very much involved in the organization. When asked if he will ever fully turn over the reigns, Jeanie says, “There is no reason for him to ever retire, I won’t let him! He’s the visionary, he’s the one who gives us our marching orders and we fulfill that mission. We take away the mundane, irritating tasks of day-to-day business so he doesn’t have to worry about that. He sets the tone and sets the course for the team and for what he wants from us, and he’s a great leader.”

Buss is quick to share the love right back. “I’ve been lucky to turn over a family business to this particular family, who has such a passion for it,” he says. “And not only that, but then I also had the benefit to stand by and see and watch what they would do with it. I feel very comfortable that they will go forward with it and I’m very proud of what they have done with it. It is a very relaxing feeling and I can’t imagine it having worked out better.”