Phil Jackson, president of the New York Knicks, and Jeanie Buss, part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, decided to call it quits on their four-year engagement, citing difficulties in maintaining a long-distance relationship, the New York Post reported on Tuesday.
Jackson, 71, and Buss, 55, took to Twitter to announce and confirm their break-up.
“With mutual love and respect, we have decided to end our engagement,” Jackson wrote on his Twitter account. “With the nature of our professional obligations and the geographic distance between us, sustaining the relationship has been difficult. We have shared many wonderful moments through the years, and we expect to remain supportive of each other in the future. PJ/JB”
Buss responded to Jackson’s tweet Tuesday evening.
The love of my life is the Los Angeles Lakers. I love Phil & will always. It's not fair to him or Lakers to not have my undivided attention
— Jeanie Buss (@JeanieBuss) December 28, 2016
Jackson, who became president of the New York Knicks in 2014, first met Buss in the 1999-2000 season, wrote the LA Times. Twelve years later in December, they got engaged and spent the next four years working on opposite sides of the country, which eventually, in Phil’s words, led to the end of their engagement.
Buss, who USA Today refers to as the “top decision maker for the Los Angeles Lakers,” is the daughter of the late Dr. Jerry Buss, former long-time owner of the Lakers. Jeanie and her brother Jim have continued their father’s legacy, managing different facets of the organization their father cherished for so many years.
Since the day Phil first arrived in New York to take the helm of the Knicks, the speculation on how long he would stay and in what capacity fueled the sales of tabloid magazines around the city.
While he had already been engaged to Buss a few years before accepting the position with New York, Jim Buss, brother to Jeanie and vice-president of basketball operations, sparked controversy and raised even more speculation when he threatened to resign if the Lakers didn’t become a “contending team” by the end of 2014, reported the Washington Post.
Jim Buss’ threat to resign ignited a firestorm of speculation, leaving the tabloids and everyone else to imagine a logical opening for Phil Jackson to return to the team in that gave previously added another three NBA championships to the six he and Michael Jordan had won when the Chicago Bulls dominated the 90s, the LA Times reported on Tuesday.
Jackson, according to the New York Post, maintained his commitment to his five-year contract with the Knicks barring a reunion with Jeanie Buss.
It is unclear who, if anyone, initiated the break-up, but both parties appear to be calm and collected on social media. Jackson spoke highly of his former fiancé’s team.
Jackson, according to Sports Illustrated, signed a $60 million contract when he became president of the Knicks in 2014. James Dolan, owner of the Knicks, has the option to buy out Jackson’s contract for the entire amount at the end of the 2016-2017 season. With a new, 7-foot-3 forward, Kristaps Porzingis, recently drafted by the Knicks, Dolan might have reason for pause.
“They’re moving forward in the right direction. … It was never important to me to go back and be a part of that. Especially not now. I have this job, this commitment.”
If Jim Buss does keep his word about resigning as vice-president of basketball operations and the Lakers do continue to spiral into oblivion, Jeanie Buss will need to fill the position with someone, likely a figure from the Lakers past as an interim VPOBO.
Jackson and Buss may be calling it quits, but for the Lakers and the Knicks, the 2016-2017 season continues.
[Featured Image by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]