Phil Jackson and Jeanie Buss, one of the NBA’s longest-running power couples, announced their breakup Tuesday night via social media.
Jackson, the president of the New York Knicks, and Buss, the president of the Los Angeles Lakers, had been engaged for several years but were never married. Jackson posted on his Twitter account a message signed with the initials P.J. and J.B.
“With mutual love and respect, we have decided to end our engagement,” Jackson’s statement read. “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.”
Buss, who is also an owner of the Lakers, later posted a message on her Twitter account: “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.”
Jackson, a Naismith Hall of Fame coach with the Lakers and the Chicago Bulls, joined the Knicks in March 2014 to oversee an organizational overhaul, which has not gone smoothly. And while the Knicks have shown signs of improvement this season – the team had a 16-14 record entering its game Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks – Jackson has not endeared himself to Carmelo Anthony, the team’s star player, in recent weeks.
After criticizing LeBron James, who is one of Anthony’s closest friends, Jackson accused Anthony of holding the ball for too long in a separate interview. Anthony was not pleased, and Jackson later met with Anthony in an attempt to clear the air.
Buss, meanwhile, has been managing her own rebuilding project with the Lakers. The Knicks and the Lakers were among the worst teams in the league last season. Jackson’s ties to the Lakers and his relationship with Buss had fueled some speculation that he might one day return to the Lakers organization.