Lakers Owner Jeanie Buss On Posing In Playboy: 'I’m Still Explaining It 20 Years Later'

Melissa Rohlin

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said young professionals who dream of one day being in her position shouldn't necessarily follow her career path. 

"I only say that because I posed in Playboy," Buss said on the "Daddy Issues" podcast with Joe Buck and Oliver Hudson. "And it doesn't mean to get into my position, you should pose in Playboy. Because me posing in Playboy had nothing to do with business. That was like a personal decision."

When she opted to participate in the magazine in 1995, Buss was realizing a personal goal. 

"When I posed, I was 32 years old," Buss said. "It wasn't like I was making a mistake that I didn't know what I was getting myself into. For me, I was at the maturity level that I could do it. And I was like every other model, I had to go through the test photo shoot and all that kind of stuff. It was my own personal goal, not anything to do with business or anything. Just something I wanted to do."

Buss praised her father, Jerry Buss, who purchased the Lakers in 1979 and groomed her into a successful sports executive, for how he handled her controversial decision to pose for the magazine. 

"My dad is again one of the most brilliant people," she said. "He gave a quote that was so perfect, where he said, 'It will be the first issue of Playboy magazine I've never read.' Meaning, he's endorsing the magazine, but I'm his daughter, right. He can walk that fine line of not being judgmental or putting me down."

Buss, 58, says even two decades later, she still has to defend herself.  

“I’m still explaining it 20 years later," she said. “They want to judge and put me in a category.”

In the wide-ranging interview, Buss also discussed her childhood, the death of Kobe Bryant and her extended relationship with Phil Jackson. 

She also addressed her Twitter avatar, in which she appears to be nude with two basketballs covering her chest. The photo was taken by a Sports Illustrated photographer in 1998. 

When the photographer first pitched the idea for the photo, Buss was upset. She thought she was being mocked. She asked him if he was crazy. 

The photographer then acknowledged he didn't even know who she was. He explained that he was a fashion photographer and thought it would be interesting and artistic to do a pin-up style photoshoot. 

Buss was intrigued. 

“It was kind of like I was like a mermaid underwater with a blue backdrop,” Buss said. “They used to show mermaids holding pearls, like this, right, and so instead of the pearls, I got basketballs. And I’m not naked but I might look like I’m naked. I get people [who say], ‘How dare you put a naked picture of you on Twitter. It was in Playboy.’ And it’s not. It was from Sports Illustrated."

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