By Derek Helling
The drama over control of the Los Angeles Lakers in the Buss family has now involved the power of the city, and it's not going to end any time soon.
Bill Plaschke and Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday that the Lakers' controlling owner, Jeanie Buss, asked the Los Angeles Superior Court for a temporary restraining order against her brothers, Jim and Johnny.
Though the request for the order was eventually withdrawn, it's a definite sign that not all is well within the Buss family. The primary question for many Lakers fans is what happens now?
As far as the day-to-day operations go, especially in-season as the team is now, nothing will change. Jeanie is still the controlling owner, and any changes in the current operations would ultimately be influenced by her. What's coming up in the next few months could be more interesting, however.
Jeanie, 55, has been the franchise chairman since 2013 when family patriarch Jerry passed away. Although Jim had been involved heavily before Jerry's passage, his role was reduced in 2014 due to the team's failure to live up to the Lakers' lofty standards. Tensions that perhaps were created during Jim's reduced role and the hiring of former Lakers player Magic Johnson as an advisor last month were brought to a head when Jeanie gave Johnson Jim's job.
At issue now is whether or not Jeanie will be reelected to team's board of governors, a position that she is required to hold in order to be the franchise chairman. Jim and Johnny have votes on that matter. While they have signed a pledge to cast their votes in Jeanie's favor in exchange for having the request for the restraining order rescinded, there's nothing legally binding about that.
That's why the matter is scheduled for trial on May 15. Jeanie is seeking a court order that would force Jim and Johnny to cast votes in her favor and therefore ensure her control of the team. She believes that the language of the trust that Jerry created makes it very clear that Jerry intended for her to be the chairman.
In the weeks ahead, this could go one of two ways. Jim and Johnny could do what it takes to convince Jeanie that they are sincere in their statement that they will maintain Jeanie's control over the team, and perhaps the trial could become unnecessary. If Jeanie remains unconvinced, the trial will likely proceed.
Even if the court finds in Jeanie's favor and supports her control over the franchise with the force of law, that may not be the final end to this drama. Jim and Johnny are still part of the family trust, and will always have some interest in the team. For now, however, Jeanie is firmly in control.
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