As executive vice-president of business operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, Jeanie Buss is one of the highest-ranking and most powerful women in the world of professional sports.
The third child and oldest daughter of tycoon Jerry Buss, the majority owner of the Lakers, she got her start in sports when she was just 19 years old. She was still an undergrad at USC when her father gave her control of a World Team Tennis franchise. In a sign of things to come, the tennis team won two championships under her guidance. From there, she worked on a number of projects for her father, including managing franchises in professional roller hockey, indoor soccer and volleyball.
She was named president of the Forum (which at that time was also owned by her father) in 1995, and later moved into the Lakers organization. She played a significant role in the team's move into the Staples Center and the three world championships that the Lakers, powered by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, claimed from 2000-2003.
Buss, who is also a director of the Los Angeles Sports Council, tends to find the spotlight outside the boardroom, too. She's been romantically involved with Lakers Coach Phil Jackson for years. She's posed for Playboy and at one point, ABC was developing a television show about a female sports executive's whirlwind life the one she lives. Question: Your dad, Jerry Buss, has owned the Lakers since 1979. Is it tough to get credit for doing your job well when you are the boss's daughter?

Answer: I started working for my dad as a senior in high school, so I've been at it awhile and I don't really think about it. I'm still here; I haven't been fired. That's what it's all about, longevity.

Q: Do you and your father ever disagree on operations or team strategies?

A: This is a family business, but I work for my dad. We talk business, but you have to find the middle ground. I am lucky to work with both my family and my boyfriend, but there are complications. When it was family time, my dad insisted that there was no business talk. I would always try to fit stuff into the conversations, but I had to learn he really meant it.

Q: Is it difficult functioning as a woman in a field as male-dominated as the NBA?


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