Jerry Buss says Lakers can beat the Heat
Just the same, he was ready to talk Tuesday afternoon about the Lakers' upcoming season...with his always-interesting observations.
Buss, 77, said his expectations were as high as ever for the Lakers, who reconvene in El Segundo in late September for the start of training camp.
"As of now, I feel like there’s a good chance this could be the best team we’ve ever had," he said, his statements as declarative as ever.
Buss also took a look at what the Miami Heat had done over the last two months, signing free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh, and shrugged.
"Suddenly, there’s this juggernaut out there that we have a chance to play against and that excites me," he said. "Quite honestly, I think we can beat them and I’m looking forward to playing them."
Buss also took delight in the Boston Celtics signing Shaquille O'Neal to a two-year deal, saying it set up a "potential showdown."
“I like the drama," he said with more than a trace of excitement. "I think it’s fabulous. You can’t help but love Shaq. He’s a very funny man. Sometimes he gets a little carried away in his analysis of former employers. Outside of that, he’s quite a guy and we look forward to it.”
Buss spoke to media members at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, where he was hosting a charity poker tournament for the Lakers' youth foundation.
Buss also recognized the fact that the Lakers had already surpassed last season's payroll of $91 million. They signed free agents Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff, and also re-signed Shannon Brown and Derek Fisher.
"You sit there and you say, 'We really can’t afford this.' Then somehow the next day we end up spending some more money and getting another player and signing a new extension, etc, etc.," he said. "At least it has softened my attitude toward women in the mall because I can’t turn down things either."
Photo: Jerry Buss in 2009. Credit: Los Angeles Times / Wally Skalij.