BILL PLASCHKE

To replace Jerry Buss, Lakers should dream of Jeanie

When asked how the pair work together, Kupchak started to answer and then smartly stopped, saying, "I think they communi- ... That's a question for them, to be honest with you."

Kupchak acknowledged that he had seen Jimmy leaving meetings to text or phone his sister. He said he has seen them interact on decisions and that it's not as awful as everyone thinks.

"Not to say everything is perfect all the time, but I've been with them on decisions, and sharing information, where they've communicated and worked very well together," Kupchak said.

But then he stated the truth that has helped these Lakers run so well for so many years — "We've always had one voice," Kupchak said.

The one-voice culture needs to continue. And, it's clear, that voice needs to belong to Jeanie Buss.

This is not another rip job of Jimmy, a basketball novice who has been criticized for everything from his countless baseball caps to his three bad coaching choices. Jimmy has his father's strong beliefs and bold spirit, attributes that will desperately be needed by this organization in the coming months of change. But Jimmy has been around the team only for several years, and his relative inexperience is a poor complement to his stubbornness, which has led to several bad decisions.

This is, instead, about the coronation of Jeanie, who has helped build the Lakers into a billion-dollar entity with her tough stance in boardrooms and soft touch with the fans. She has spent her adult life being groomed for this moment, following her father through many of his businesses. She now runs the entire Lakers business empire, doing everything from guiding top assistant Tim Harris in securing the landmark Time Warner Cable television deal to helping design the recent championship rings.

More important than her vast Lakers knowledge is that she knows what she doesn't know. She knows she's not a basketball person. That's why Kupchak is there. She would give one of the league's best general managers the complete freedom to remake the Lakers in Jerry Buss' image.

"Yesterday was an empty day, I couldn't seem to find a place where I was comfortable," Kupchak said.

After the loss of the greatest owner in the history of professional sports, it could be a long while before Kupchak or any Lakers employee can return to that place. The ability to cite Jeanie Buss as their boss, without need for clarification, would be a good start.

bill.plaschke@latimes.com

Twitter: @billplaschke

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