In a recent interview on the “All the Smoke” podcast, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss spoke about some of her favorite memories in the franchise’s history. Podcast co-hosts Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson asked Buss to list her top five most important Lakers of all time.
The question was admittedly a difficult one and it clearly stressed out Buss from the get-go as she asks for clarification of “important” before rattling off Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, whose tenure with the franchise is the shortest of the group but includes the franchise’s 17th championship and a crucial role in making Staples Center a voting center last fall.
“I like to say he’s like the closest thing to a superhero I’ve ever met,” Buss said earlier in the interview on James, “in that he’s so powerful and strong and smart, but he does things for the good.”
She then adds Magic Johnson to the list after a prompt from Barnes.
“Of course, Magic,” Buss said. “Magic might be No. 1,” before doubling back. “No, Kareem. I don’t know, it’s so hard.”
After taking some time to think about her fifth pick, Barnes suggests coach Phil Jackson, who won five championships with the Lakers and was once engaged to Buss.
“Does Phil count?” Buss asks before conceding that he would round out her picks.
The interview was posted Thursday but picked up steam on social media a day later when a Twitter account shared a graphic of Buss’ list, mistakenly saying she was asked to select only players.
People questioned why she left off other stars such as Shaquille O’Neal, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. The omission of West, in particular, inflamed Twitter (quite a coup, we know). In addition to a playing career spent entirely with the Lakers, and which included 14 All-Star appearances and cult status as the NBA logo, West built the modern Lakers dynasty as an executive for nearly two decades.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.