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Bryant, Kupchak endorse Buss heirs
With the trade deadline looming on Thursday, Kupchak said he doesn’t “anticipate anything dramatic in the next two days.”
He reiterated that there are no plans to trade center Dwight Howard, despite rumors to the contrary.
“He’s been saying that for 1 1/2 to two months,” Howard said. “There’s always rumors swirling around. I’m not going to let the stuff that’s been happening defeat me as a person.”
Despite his declining health, Buss watched all the team’s games and he was “very involved” in the decision to fire Mike Brown and hire Mike D’Antoni as coach early in the season.
“The organization has always been first-class and I think it will stay that way,” said D’Antoni, who never met Buss but called him “the best owner ever in any sport.”
“You might see him leaving the office at 9 in the morning. His hours were unusual,” he said, smiling. “With the family members, it’s more predictable. Jeanie is in the office every day.”
Jim and Jeanie are most closely tied to the Lakers. Janie handles the team’s youth foundation from afar, while Jesse is learning to be a scout and has what Kupchak calls “a keen eye.” Johnny, who previously ran the WNBA’s Sparks when his father owned that team, hasn’t been that involved with the Lakers. Joey is president of the D-Fenders of the NBA’s D-League.
Bryant recalled visiting Buss in the hospital on a day when the owner was in good spirits. They discussed Bryant’s career, which began when the Lakers acquired him as a 17-year-old, Magic Johnson and the “Showtime” era Lakers, and the rival Boston Celtics.
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