I saw Mm, as an opportunity to draw attention to myself and, I hope, break out of the mold of being just the boss’ daughter,” says Jeanie who admits that posing for these photos also broke another barrier. “I’ve always been very shy, and I’m thankful to get over that. I don’r feel trapped anymore by shyness about my body. The photo shoot ended up being a lot of fun, and I learned a lot about myself”
All the pics of the stars that you are waiting for
It was Jeanie’s idea to step out of the boardroom for these photos, partly as a way to draw attention to her teams. “I’m not going to deny that this might help my business,” she says. Most of all, she was looking to document her personal growth. “My marriage recently ended,” she says, “and I thought, What are all the things I’ve wanted to do? And being in playboy was one of them. As an 18-year-old, I couldn’t have done this. But now I feel I’ve matured into a woman who’s confident in her sexuality, in how she looks and in how she takes care of herself. This, to me, was the perfect statement that I wanted to make about myself.”
Underestimate Jeanie Buss? Not likely.
Forum Sports Inc., a company that stages tennis exhibitions, volleyball tournaments and a variety of other events at the Forum. She’s also on the board of the Lakers—whose part-owner Magic Johnson recently asked her, “When are you and I going to start running things around here?”
Jeanie’s current passion, though, is the team she owns: the L.A. Blades, which plays fast-paced, five-man hockey on inline skates as part of the Roller Hockey International League, now entering its third season. “I wasn’t sure about the sport at first,” she admits. “But before the first game, I went out to the parking lot and there were pickup games going on. As all the kids who play it grow up, I think it’ll become a major sport.”
Jeanie is used to working in offices bedecked with championship trophies, but sometimes she would rather be downstairs. “The locker room is the one place I can’t go, and that bugs me,” she says. “I miss going in and doing some high fives after my team wins. With these photographs, I finally realized my fantasy: to wear the uniform and not just be cheering from the sidelines.
What she has done is succeed in the male dominated world of pro sports since she was a shy teenager. “I would take along my Barbie dolls when my dad would take us to track meets and football games,” she says, laughing at her introduction to sports. “But then I got kind of obsessed with sports.” At 13, she got the nickname Arena Rat because she’d do anything to hang around athletes or sit in on business meetings. She absorbed so much that at 19 she was named general manager of the Los Angeles Strings professional tennis team while at the same time finishing her education at USC.
This is more my home than any house I’ve ever lived in,” says Jeanie of the Great Western Forum. “I had my 21st birthday party here, I met my ex-husband here, I was robbed at gunpoint here, I met Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra here.” Her days may be spent in the executive suite, but she has time to chat with Lakers legend Jerry West, get a lift from current stars Vlade Divac and Nick Van Exel and ride high with her roller hockey team, the L.A. Blades. Her favorite banner in the Forum: the Blades’ 1994 division championship pennant.
But Jeanie Buss, you see, isn’t just one of the most successful women behind the scenes in sports she’s also the daughter of Dr. Jerry Buss, owner of both the Los Angeles Lakers and the Great Western Forum, who invited his daughter into the family business and then let her prove herself. “People have preconceived ideas about the children of the boss,” says Jeanie over lunch in the Forum Club. “But anyone who knows me knows what I can do.”
DREAMING of JEANIE
JEANIE BUSS MAY BE THE ULTIMATE LAKER GIRL: THE ONE WHO ENDS UP RUNNING THE FRANCHISE.
I like being underestimated,” says Jeanie Buss with a grin, and for a minute, you have to wonder who would be foolish enough to make such a mistake. Underestimate a woman who, at the age of 33, has been running professional sports teams for 14 years, who has promoted events at a prestigious arena since she was barely out of high school, who serves on the board of directors of one of the hottest sports franchises of the past few decades?