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Lakers owner Jerry Buss sets the standard for winning

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Nearly every interview with Lakers owner Jerry Buss featured similar background settings, with it either taking place in his luxury box suite, in a Westside restaurant that provided a picturesque view of the beach or in the locker room where the good times and champagne both were shared.

Nearly every interview with Buss revolved around the continual theme of winning, including his explanations on why he's so willing to spend what seems to be infinite amounts of money on a team, how he takes personal pride in the Lakers' success and why he holds on to some of his big-picture, albeit sometimes controversial, decisions in maintaining the Lakers' long-term dominance.

Nearly every interview with Buss also detailed a similar picture with him on how he defines the Lakers' penchant for performing with a Hollywood style. He wears colorful dress shirts and jeans, sits alongside a beautiful twentysomething and maintains his love for gambling.

It certainly comes as no surprise that Buss, 76,  will be inducted today to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., after helping the Lakers win 10 of their 16 NBA championships under his watch. He will be inducted alongside fellow Lakers Magic Johnson (being inducted with the 1992 Dream Team) and Jerry West (with the 1960 U.S. Olympic team) and will become the third Laker to enter the Hall of Fame as a contributor, joining broadcaster Chick Hearn and Pete Newell. What's so revealing about Buss' success aren't necessarily his accomplishments, but how he reached those goals -- by following the same formula since buying the team in 1979. As I scoured the L.A. Times archives this week for  Buss-related features, I noticed that Buss' settings and beliefs stayed the same even if the dates, bylines and circumstances varied.

It all came back to what Jeanie Buss, the team's executive vice president and Jerry's daughter, recently told The Times' Broderick Turner about her father's Hall of Fame induction.

"He knows the formula. He's committed to winning," Jeanie told Turner. "But he's smart because he runs it like a business. Usually people think that when you run something like a business, that means you can't win. But he's proven that you can be successful on the floor and off the floor, and that's a model that has brought him so much success."

That model  led The Times' Bill Plaschke to argue during the 2007-08 season that Buss remains "the best owner in the history of professional sports." And the various interviews The Times has had with Buss over the years strongly indicate how his model has continued to work.

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The Lakers entered the 2009-10 season about to spend a league-high $112.7 million, including $91.3 million in player salaries and an additional $21.4 million in luxury taxes. It is a statistic that didn't exactly make Buss want to celebrate.

"It doesn't thrill me," he told The Times' Mike Bresnahan. "I don't like to be singled out for that particular purpose, but I feel in this situation it was necessary. When it's necessary, we're going to do that."

When it comes down to alternatives, it's clear that Buss chooses winning over money concerns. He was talking to Bresnahan at the time only months removed from a prolonged negotiation process with Lakers forward Lamar Odom, who eventually agreed to a a four-year deal worth about $33 million, with a team option for the final year. The Lakers would then go on to sign Pau Gasol to a three-year contract extension believed to have been worth up to $64.7 million at the time. They then would secure Kobe Bryant to a three-year, $84-million contract extension, meaning the Lakers' core players in Bryant, Gasol, Odom, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest would be locked into long-term deals. Even with the team entering the 2011 off-season anxious again over luxury-tax implications, the Lakers kept Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and Shannon Brown, added Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and Theo Ratliff and drafted two rookies in Devin Ebanks and Derrick Caracter, meaning the Lakers are well-stocked with 14 players in hopes they three-peat the 2010-11 season.

Buss maintained his forward-thinking approach when he bought the team, the Forum, the NHL's Kings and a 13,000-acre Kern County ranch for $67.5 million in 1979. "One of the biggest reasons I bought the Lakers was to beat the Celtics," Buss told Bresnahan in 2008. "If you were a Laker fan prior to my ownership, and you sat there and watched the Celtics whip us so many times, and how close we came -- one shot in one particular series -- you just got it into your soul that you couldn't stand the Celtics anymore."

And when he bought the team in 1979, he knew exactly what he wanted. The Times' Scott Ostler and Steve Springer detail in the book "Winnin' Times: The Magical Journey of the Los Angeles Lakers" how Buss envisioned Lakers games to resemble what Springer and Ostler termed "a grand-scale version of the Horn," a Santa Monica nightclub.

"It featured live entertainment, big names and new faces -- singers, musicians and comedians -- on a small stage surrounded by 150 or so patrons in cozy booths," Ostler and Springer wrote. "The Horn attracted an upscale clientele, L.A.'s hip Westside set. Jerry Buss, a budding real-estate tycoon, was a regular."

"The club's show always opened the same way. The lights would dim, and an entertainer planted at one of the tables would stand and begin to sing the establishment's signature tune, "It's Showtime." A singer at another table would rise, then a third, all harmonizing."

"Buss loved that opening -- it gave him goose bumps. Its theatrics created a mood and charged the room with expectation. He liked to sit back, a pretty woman at his side, and light a cigarette, sip his rum-and-Coke and let himself be swept up in a fantasy of lights, music and entertainment."

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That's exactly what Buss replicated with bringing the Showtime Era to the Lakers, featuring plenty of superstars, Laker Girls and the Hollywood crowd. That vibe still remains strong, with Bryant defining the franchise, more than 200 people attending Laker Girl tryouts this July and Staples Center becoming the must-see attraction among Hollywood celebrities. Noted The Times' Mark Heisler in his book "Madmen's Ball: The Continuing Saga of Kobe, Phil and the Los Angeles Lakers": "Buss, whose lightbulb went off while reading The Playboy Philosophy, lived in the style of Hugh Hefner. Or maybe it was Hefner who lived in the style of Buss, it was hard to tell. Hef was more famous and the Playboy Mansion enjoyed a special place in the hearts of the rich and horny, but in L.A., nobody could challenge a Lakers game as the place to be and Buss as the host with the most."

That era started, as Turner observed, "when the team won a coin flip and selected [Magic] Johnson from Michigan State with the No. 1 overall pick in 1979."

And indications that Buss is willing to shell out big money was strongly evident when he offered Johnson a 25-year, $25-million offer, gave Shaquille O'Neal a seven-year $120-million offer and by 1997, reported The Times' Scott Howard-Cooper, had spent $211 million in player salaries alone.

Buss always looked to add a new wrinkle. Though Lakers Coach Pat Riley was instrumental in helping the Lakers unseat the Celtics in the 1985 and 1987 NBA Finals, Buss parted ways with Riley after the Lakers were swept in the 1989 NBA Finals and then lost to the Phoenix Suns in the 1990 Western Conference semifinals. "It's kind of like when you're playing cards," Buss told The Times' Mike Downey in 1990. "You lose two or three times in a row, it's time to shuffle. Shuffle or ask for a new deck."

Though Shaquille O'Neal became a key component in restoring the Lakers' dynasty with a three-peat from 2000 to 2002, Buss decided to trade him to Miami in 2004, believing he was on the decline of his career. "It was not only a question of whether the man was going to be in shape, but what were his true salary demands going to be," Buss told The Times' T.J. Simers in 2005. "I was looking at the number of games he missed over his career, and if he missed this many when young, wasn't it more likely he was going to miss this many when he was old? It was my simplistic calculation, but coupled with his salary demands it put me in an untenable situation."

And though Bryant demanded to be traded in 2007, Buss held his ground, believing he just needed to add a few pieces around him. Soon after, the Lakers won two titles in the following three seasons. "I promised Kobe that if I could get the right material, that I had respect enough for his desire that I would pursue a trade," Buss told Plaschke in 2008. "But I didn't see that there was enough talent there, so we didn't do it. I was wishing he understood how difficult these things are, but I do love him."

And as Buss gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, there's plenty of reasons for the Lakers' front office, coaches, players and fans to love him. In a city that's defined with winning and style, Buss has continuously fit that description, even if the circumstances change.

"I'm overtaken by emotion because he is so deserving," Johnson told Turner "The league wouldn't be where it is if it hadn't been for Dr. Buss. If you talk about the fan experience, he was way ahead of the curve. He was way ahead of his time, with the team on the court, with the Laker Girls, with the band. He really understood fan experience way before it became common like it is now."

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Jerry Buss, center, with the Laker Girls, after being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles on Oct. 30, 2006. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

Photo: Lakers owner Jerry Buss will be inducted today into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Photo: Kobe Bryant, with daughters Natalia, left and Gianna, is congratulated by Lakers owner Jerry Buss following a press conference Tuesday to announce Bryant being named the NBA's most valuable player in 2008. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times

 
Comments () | Archives (29)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Once again, God bless Dr. Jerry Buss! Here's to the pursuit of #17...and #18!

Congratulations to the best owner of the best franchise in sports.

Let's get #17!

GO LAKERS!!!!

"That model led The Times' Bill Plaschke to argue during the 2007-08 season that Buss remains 'the best owner in the history of professional sports.'"

Bill Plaschke actually got something right? My world is spinning out of control! Have I been the victim of inception? Is this a dream? What is happening?!

*_____________________________________________________________________*
* IN DR JERRY BUSS, THE LAKER NATION TRUST – KUDOS SIR THE ENTIRE LAKER NATION
* SALUTES YOU ON THIS YOUR HALL OF FAME DAY!!!!! - BANDWAGON
*_____________________________________________________________________*
(01) utzworld THE ONCE AND FUTURE BANNER HOLDER – CHAPLAIN - LET US PRAY
(02) LAKERMIKE – OWNER – DR. JERRY BUSS . . .My earliest memories of Lakers is 1969 when they ailed to beat the Celtics
"
"
(29) D(EREK) J(ETER) - Dr. Buss, the Best owner in sports today! Was tied with the "BOSS," George, who left us just recently.
(30) LONGTIMELAKERLOVER- Congratulations to the best owner of the best franchise in sports. Let's get #17!
(31) PUDDLE - That model led The Times' Bill Plaschke to argue during the 2007-08 season that Buss remains 'the best owner in the history of professional sports.'"Bill Plaschke actually got something right? My world is spinning out of control! Have I been the victim of inception? Is this a dream? What is happening?!

He did everything he could to make their burden lighter and our joy greater.

Posted by: HalosAnt | August 13, 2010 at 08:38 AM

Hey Larry,

Don't forget about me...

My new starting Five


Blake
Kobe
Artest
Gasol
Bynum


1st bench (Odom, Barnes, Fisher) comes in

Fisher
Kobe
Barnes
Odom
Gasol


3rd bench (Brown, Ebanks, Caracter, Bynum comes in)

Blake
Brown
Ebanks
Odom/Caracter
Caracter/Bynum


Back to starters, (Kobe, Artest Gasol) Blake, Bynum


I do not see any playing time for Ratliff, Sasha and Luke.


*_____________________________________________________________________*
* IN DR JERRY BUSS, THE LAKER NATION TRUST – KUDOS SIR THE ENTIRE LAKER NATION
* SALUTES YOU ON THIS YOUR HALL OF FAME DAY!!!!! - BANDWAGON
*_____________________________________________________________________*
(01) utzworld THE ONCE AND FUTURE BANNER HOLDER – CHAPLAIN - LET US PRAY.......
(02) LAKERMIKE – OWNER – DR. JERRY BUSS . . .My earliest memories of Lakers is 1969 when they Failed to beat the Celtics.......
(03) HALOSANT - DRIVER - He did everything he could to make their burden lighter and our joy greater

"
"
(29) D(EREK) J(ETER) - Dr. Buss, the Best owner in sports today! Was tied with the "BOSS," George, who left us just recently.
(30) LONGTIMELAKERLOVER- Congratulations to the best owner of the best franchise in sports. Let's get #17!
(31) PUDDLE - That model led The Times' Bill Plaschke to argue during the 2007-08 season that Buss remains 'the best owner in the history of professional sports.'"Bill Plaschke actually got something right? My world is spinning out of control! Have I been the victim of inception? Is this a dream? What is happening?!

Dr. Buss, thank you for everything you've given us.


What do we play for? RINGS!!!


Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


GO LAKERS!!!

Lakers... Still relevant after all these years! Congrats to Buss, Jerry and Magic - IN BUSS WE TRUST!

Guys. Just FYI. We'll push the live chat back to 3:45 p.m. I thought the inductions started at 3 but they actually start at 4.

See everyone there!

MM

"I do not see any playing time for Ratliff, Sasha and Luke."

Count on Bynum being out at some point during the season so Theo will be needed and used. Luke is likely out for the seaon anyway and Sasha will be traded before the deadline next year - that expiring contract is too valuable.

*_____________________________________________________________________*
* IN DR JERRY BUSS, THE LAKER NATION TRUST – KUDOS SIR THE ENTIRE LAKER NATION
* SALUTES YOU ON THIS YOUR HALL OF FAME DAY!!!!! - BANDWAGON
*_____________________________________________________________________*
(01) utzworld THE ONCE AND FUTURE BANNER HOLDER – CHAPLAIN - LET US PRAY.......
(02) LAKERMIKE – OWNER – DR. JERRY BUSS . . .My earliest memories of Lakers is 1969 when they Failed to beat the Celtics.......
(03) HALOSANT - DRIVER - He did everything he could to make their burden lighter and our joy greater
(04) JON K - ALTERNATe DRIVER - Dr. Buss, thank you for everything you've given us

"
"
(31) D(EREK) J(ETER) - Dr. Buss, the Best owner in sports today! Was tied with the "BOSS," George, who left us just recently.
(32) LONGTIMELAKERLOVER- Congratulations to the best owner of the best franchise in sports. Let's get #17!
(33) PUDDLE - That model led The Times' Bill Plaschke to argue during the 2007-08 season that Buss remains 'the best owner in the history of professional sports.'"Bill Plaschke actually got something right? My world is spinning out of control! Have I been the victim of inception? Is this a dream? What is happening?!
(34) FRMKT - Lakers... Still relevant after all these years! Congrats to Buss, Jerry and Magic - IN BUSS WE TRUST

Dr. Buss,

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!


m.

LAKERS are too strong ready for 2010-2011 domination!


Bynum
Gasol
Ratliff
Caracter
Odom
Artest
Barnes
Walton
Ebanks
Bryant
Sasha
Brown
Blake
Fisher


Mitch has made sure it is impossible to beat this team with the off-season moves he made.


You can take Kobe and Gasol out of the starting line up and you still have... a starting line up.


Bynum
Odom
Artest
Barnes
Blake


Dr. Buss,

Don't know if anyone from the team reads this blog, but I wanted to say thank you for your perseverance, your intelligence, and your commitment to the fans. You have given us so much to cheer for it is almost unbelievable.

And, you gave us the Laker girls. That alone is HoF worthy.

Once the season is over, the NBA will have a real THREE-SOME (3 Rings of Loads??), Kobe, GASOL, and BYNUM, not the fake one...

How about describing Jerry Buss as a consummate poker player. He had the courage in firing Phil Jackson when PJ got entangled with the triangle strife with Shaq and Kobe in '04. After one season, he rehired him back through the prodding of his daughter who was deeply in love with this Coach as well as the fans. Two seasons later, his Superstar ranted and wanted to be traded. JB maintained his coolness as a patient poker player delved into crisis management. First, He entrusted his team to a losing Coach, PJ and accepted the challenges in dealing with scrubby players; Second retained his faith with his GM despite mounting criticisms in and out of the Laker nation; Third, lowered his ego by restraining his restive Superstar to stay and give him a chance to prove word or commitment. He retained a passive stance with his three good cards, waited for an opportunity till the royal flash cards were formed through the entry of Fisher, Gasol and Ariza. After a winning another Championship season, he laid down an aggressive deck of cards by executing a momentum shift in the small forwards. He exchanged a steady post slasher, Ariza to a calculated risked Artest who has history wanton team distraction or personal controversies. Well, his wild card turned out to be the joker that delivered back2back Championship. Mark Cuban is still playing high stakes and kept quitting during playoffs. Don Sterling is playing low stakes with a reputation as cheap and a shabby player.

HOW I BECAME A LAKERS FAN
-by Magic Phil
___________________________
Growing up in the 70's, we didn't have too much to do, so one of my favorite things was the Harlem Globetrotters. They used to come to our city once a year, and I was always there. What they did w/ the bball was amazing. I knew it was all setup, but I still loved just to see those things.
-
By that time, the NBA and FIBA were 2 different things. Rules were different, etc...The NBA was not appealing for me, the "effective" bball didn't sparkle my eyes...Until I saw Magic Johnson.
-
When I first saw Magic play, that was the 1980 season, I was IN SHOCK. The guy plays for the NBA, but at the same time, he was doing some globetrotters stuff. That was it! Showtime! I was involved with other things (volleyball...) and I didn't follow him like I wanted, but in 1985 I decided to watch the entire NBA season for the 1st time. Magic was awesome...no words can describe what I saw...We won, etc...
-
Now I know that the reason I'm a Laker is not only Magic, it is Dr. Buss! For me, SHOWTIME is more important than even winning. To play the game in a fair/square way, in a beautiful way, this is what I call GREATNESS!!!!
-
The Lakers, Magic, Kobe and Dr. Buss stands for everything I believe in basketball. Excellence, greatness and of course, winning!
-
I can't say THANKS DR BUSS enough....
-
I think I'm gonna cry.....
-
Nah...
GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edwin - That is a terrific point about Jerry being a good poker player.
MM

Bynum = 2
Gasol = 2
Ratliff = 0
Caracter = 0
Odom = 2
Artest = 1
Barnes = 0
Walton = 2
Ebanks = 0
Bryant = 5
Sasha = 2
Brown = 2
Blake = 0
Fisher = 5

Lakers = 23 Rings

What is the current roster ring count for the Celtics and Heat?

Congrats, Dr. Buss! You're the best owner of the best franchise! You deserve it!

These words from Buss caught my eye:
"I was blessed with having multiple Hall of Famers around me," he said, "starting with Bill Sharman and Jerry West and then going on to Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. Then, you get players like Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Kobe Bryant. Probably nobody in my 31-year period has been surrounded by as many Hall of Fame people and future Hall of Famers as I have."

Hmmm... no mention of Snaq... methinks the Big Old Baby has to apologize to Buss before he can see his number retired. Groveling is good, too.

By the way, one more reason not to like cats:


http://specials.msn.com/A-List/Lifestyle/Cat-parasite-and-schizophrenia.aspx?cp-searchtext=cat%20parasites%20schizophrenia


Actually, a close personal friend of mine developed schitzophrenia. When he first developed his symptoms it was in an apartment that had previously been inhabited by a cat lady.


So, there you go.


What do we play for? RINGS!!!


Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.


GO LAKERS!!!

*_____________________________________________________________________*
* IN DR JERRY BUSS, THE LAKER NATION TRUST – KUDOS THE ENTIRE LAKER NATION
* SALUTES YOU ON THIS YOUR HALL OF FAME DAY!!!!! - BANDWAGON
*_____________________________________________________________________*
(01) utzworld THE ONCE AND FUTURE BANNER HOLDER – CHAPLAIN - LET US PRAY.......
(02) LAKERMIKE – OWNER – DR. JERRY BUSS . . .My earliest memories of Lakers is 1969 when they Failed to beat the Celtics.......
(03) HALOSANT - DRIVER - He did everything he could to make their burden lighter and our joy greater
(04) JON K - ALTERNATe DRIVER - Dr. Buss, thank you for everything you've given us

"
(29) MAGIC PHIL - Regarding Dr Buss, what can I say besides that he is THE BEST OWNER EVER. PERIOD. Dr Buss seems to like winning over profit, and that says it all. If there's one thing we all need to tell him is THANK YOU DR BUSS!!!!!!!!!!!! Cheers. HOW I BECAME A LAKERS FAN Growing up in the 70's, we didn't have too much to do, so one of my favorite things was the Harlem Globetrotters. They used to come to our city once a year, and I was always there. What they did w/ the bball was amazing. I knew it was all setup, but I still loved just to see those things. By that time, the NBA and FIBA were 2 different things. Rules were different, etc...The NBA was not appealing for me, the "effective" bball didn't sparkle my eyes...Until I saw Magic Johnson. When I first saw Magic play, that was the 1980 season, I was IN SHOCK. The guy plays for the NBA, but at the same time, he was doing some globetrotters stuff. That was it! Showtime! I was involved with other things (volleyball...) and I didn't follow him like I wanted, but in 1985 I decided to watch the entire NBA season for the 1st time. Magic was awesome...no words can describe what I saw...We won, etc... Now I know that the reason I'm a Laker is not only Magic, it is Dr. Buss! For me, SHOWTIME is more important than even winning. To play the game in a fair/square way, in a beautiful way, this is what I call GREATNESS!!!! The Lakers, Magic, Kobe and Dr. Buss stands for everything I believe in basketball. Excellence, greatness and of course, winning! I can't say THANKS DR BUSS enough....I think I'm gonna cry.....Nah..GO LAKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"

(34) FRMKT - Lakers... Still relevant after all these years! Congrats to Buss, Jerry and Magic - IN BUSS WE TRUST
(35) SAMLL - Congrats, Dr. Buss! You're the best owner of the best franchise! You deserve it! These words from Buss caught my eye: "I was blessed with having multiple Hall of Famers around me," he said, "starting with Bill Sharman and Jerry West and then going on to Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. Then, you get players like Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Kobe Bryant. Probably nobody in my 31-year period has been surrounded by as many Hall of Fame people and future Hall of Famers as I have."Hmmm... no mention of Snaq... methinks the Big Old Baby has to apologize to Buss before he can see his number retired. Groveling is good, too.
(36) M-PHOTO - Dr. Buss, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
(37) TEAMN - Dr. Buss, Don't know if anyone from the team reads this blog, but I wanted to say thank you for your perseverance, your intelligence, and your commitment to the fans. You have given us so much to cheer for it is almost unbelievable. And, you gave us the Laker girls. That alone is HoF worthy.

HalosAnt | August 13, 2010 at 01:28 PM

Add Phil Jackson's 11 rings...and that's a total of 34...awesome!

*_____________________________________________________________________*
* IN DR JERRY BUSS, THE LAKER NATION TRUST – KUDOS SIR THE ENTIRE LAKER NATION
* SALUTES YOU ON THIS YOUR HALL OF FAME DAY!!!!! - BANDWAGON
*_____________________________________________________________________*
IN DR JERRY BUSS WE TRUST
So the day is finally here, To honor an owner and man Laker Nation holds dear
There will be a thousand platitudes said today, To honor the great owner in LA.
But all that really needs to be said, Is said by the Banners in the Staples overhead
Takes more than money to win a Ring, Cuban would have dozens if money was the thing
Takes the heart of a gambler, patience of a Saint, Skill to know when to hit & when to feint
Takes treating your team as more than a toy, But building a Dynasty that a Nation can enjoy
Takes someone that can win the Public Trust, Takes a giant of a man like Dr. Jerry Buss
So on this your special Hall of Fame day, The entire Laker Nation would like to say
Dr. Jerry Buss you know you the man, Thank you & Kudos from all of Laker Nation & Land
*_______________________________________________________________________
(01) utzworld THE ONCE AND FUTURE BANNER HOLDER – CHAPLAIN - LET US PRAY
Dear Lord, we thank You for all Your many blessings. We of Laker Nation thank You specifically for the leadership, guidance and commitment of Dr. Jerry Buss. Through the highs of every championship and the lows of every early playoff exit and even through the heartbreak of Magic's HIV diagnosis, You have guided & shepherded Dr. Buss and his family to be steadfastly dedicated to the success of our team. We pray that he ultimately realizes that You are the hand who has guided his success. We thank you for Dr. Buss's legacy and his induction into the NBA Hall Of Fame. We pray that You grant him grace and mercy to stick around with Laker Nation a little longer to lead us into the record breaking 17th...and 18th(!!!) NBA Championships. May Dr. Buss be celebrated and blessed by this momentous occasion.
AMEN!
*_______________________________________________________________
(02) LAKERMIKE – OWNER – DR. JERRY BUSS . . .My earliest memories of Lakers is 1969 when they Failed to beat the Celtics (edged out by a few months by the still, sharp image of Broadway Joe and a jet with white smoke at the end of the Super Bowl a few months earlier). So I confess that I have lived the Dr. Buss years from the beginning. Dr. Buss deserves a place not only in LAKERS-lore, but also NBA-lore. It has been universally reported for decades now how the Lakers-Celtics/Magic-Bird rivalry revived, if not saved, the NBA back in the '80's. But credit to Buss is much more deserved here than what most reporters ever mention. It was LAKERS SHOWTIME that really was the catalyst for the NBA revival, moving the spotlight away from drug scandals (Phoenix traded almost their entire TEAM over an 18 month period to cleanse their organization!) and brutality on the court (fights were common and horrible images that fanned racial sentiments). It was LAKERS SHOWTIME that changed the landscape of TV contracts. When LA beat Philly in 1980, I remember following most games via the dreaded "tape-delay" at 11:30 PM local time in LA. (That's right,,, 11:30 PM!) In fact, I remember talking to my dad the evening of Game 6 when LA beat Philly thanks to Magic's best game ever. That game was tape delayed in Hawaii! In the 1979 draft, Dr. Buss had the opportunity to draft an oversized guard who had unquestioned skills, a winning track record and All-American accolades. BUT instead, he went with a freakishly large "point guard" in whom he saw the vision of SHOWTIME. Passing on the great Sidney Moncreif, he selected Earvin "Magic" Johnson. In 1982, his vision and leadership sided with a player against a coach (a rarity at any time). That the player was black and the coach was white added even more significance. Instead of trading the disgruntled player, he fired the coach. Good-bye Coach Westhead. Hello Coach Riley. Anything else you need, Magic? How about an unheard of 25 year, 25 million dollar contract? Done!
The league actually adopted significant new rules and regulations to legislate against the SHOWTIME LAKERS dominance. The first ever "illegal defense" rules were implemented to combat the LAKERS trapping defense scheme. The now widely accepted "salary cap" was triggered by Dr. Buss's deep-pockets stimulus packages to the roster. The Finals present day 2-3-2 format was sparked by logistical concerns that Laker-Celtic series presented. And even the now familiar "THE FINALS" was born from SHOWTIME residue when NBA Commissioner Stern felt a unique label was required to befit this brand of basketball on the biggest stage the league had to offer. Indeed, Dr. Buss's vision of SHOWTIME and leadership to make SHOWTIME a reality is what saved the NBA back in the 80's. Without Dr. Buss, there would have been no SHOWTIME. No Lakers/Celtics rivalry renewed. No lucrative TV contracts and exposure exploding on the scene. No LakersGirls. By the time the 2000's rolled around, Dr. Buss had a long established reputation for excellence and shrewd judgment. He was key in moving the Lakers from the Fabulous Forum to the Staples Center, thus invigorating downtwon and giving birth to the incredible "LA LIVE" scene. He plucked Phil Jackson out of "retirement" to coach the Lakers. He chose Kobe over Shaq. He saw Mitch Kupchak to succeed Jerry West when nobody else did. He saw his children to succeed himself when nobody else did.
Today, he is inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Arguably, with apologies to supporters to Red Auerbach, there is no owner who has brought more style and subtance to the NBA. He is a winner by so many definitions. A man of vision and conviction who made choices nobody else dared. Years ago I said that I believe the LAKERS gain is the Leagues loss. Imagine what Dr. Buss could have accomplished for the NBA if he had been THE COMMISSIONER for the past 30 years ~ WOW! Congrats to you, Dr. Buss
(03) HALOSANT - DRIVER - He did everything he could to make their burden lighter and our joy greater
(04) JON K - ALTERNATe DRIVER - Dr. Buss, thank you for everything you've given us
(05) JUSTANOTHER,MAMBA FAN – RIDING SHOTGUN1 – Dr. Buss I Love You. You have always had the audacity to win. You did whatever it took to keep the parades moving down Figueroa, and the Larry O here in LA where it belongs. As a true Lakerholic, I am forever in your debt. Thank you and congratulations!
(06) LROB – RIDING SHOTGUN2 - Buss...When he signed Magic to 25 year contract for 25 million. It was unheard of at the time, but Dr. Buss was showing his commitment to winning. 10 titles in 30 years is beyond comprehension. Yet his thrist for more hardware is as strong as ever as witnessed by paying excessive luxury tax to sign LO in 2009 and Fish, Blake and Shannon this summer; and agreeing to carry 14 players.. Yes, Dr. Buss spends the necessary money to have a great team, but he also hires competent people and let them do their job. I also appreciate Dr. Buss because unlike a lot of big spending owners (Jerry Jones, Mark Cuban) he realizes that he's not the show - - but the players are.
(07) PSYCHED LAKER GIRL - Dr. Buss: thank you for your vision, unparalled excellence and creating a worldwide brand name. All of this has been done without the pomp and circumstance of Mr. Al Davis or the overbearing audacity of Mr. Steinbrenner (RIP). Dr. Buss' passion for the game of basketball has transcended all other NBA franchises with class and unwavering support. The mission remains the same today as it did more than 30 years ago, WIN! In the crazy backdrop of Hollywood glitz, glamour and $$$, you could have easily been tangled in its web. Instead you embraced it. And while there have been a couple dry spells, your steadfast guidance endured. Like the poker player you are, you take risks and know when to pounce or fold. But in the end, you strategically place pieces together to form a TEAM. It's always been about the TEAM and that is why you have such loyal fans today. Thank you Dr. Buss!!! Cheers to many more champions, banners and parades!
(08) EDWIN GUECO – INDUCTION CHARMANf – My favorite memory of Jerry Buss was when he sided with Magic and fired Paul Westhead. He placed Chick Hearn's side kick color commentator as the new Coach, Pat Riley who got in return a Championship on autopilot coaching in 1981-82 season.
(09) DON[‘T BLAME DEL HARRIS – SECURITY My favorite Buss moment was when he decided to trade Snaq. Yep, I said it... but you were thinking it!
(10) FATTY - My favorite thing was when he televised the games and let us watch them on cable. That really created a following for the Lakers. And of course, made my life more complete..... Its Dr. Buss day! Yo, Dr. Buss, you da man!
(11) P ANG – NOMINATED DR. BUSS - d like to be humble but, dang, I take full credit for starting his nomination. In this blog anyway.
(12) The Triangulator - Like DBDH (I can't believe it), I too consider trading Shraq my favorite Dr. Buss moment. Shraq (The Big Monolith): "Show Me The Money MF'r" directed at Dr. Buss courtside in Hawaii... Dr. Buss: "No, I Think I'll Show Your Big Arse The Door! Don't Let It Hit You On The Way Out!!!"
(13) HOGAN - Regarding Dr. Buss; you are the best owner in the history of the game and through your vision ensured that there will continue to be a game. You have always done right by the team and put the best players out on the court, even if it hurt your pocket book. You have brought tremendous joy to and have instilled great pride in multiple generations of fans. I have been saddened the last couple of years as you have taken more of a back seat to your son, who I thought was kind of slow. I feared that we would be in for some hard times when you finally called it quits. My opinion has changed though and I now see that Jim has played a huge role in bringing incredible players into the fold to contend for future titles. I think that Jim is quite rather than slow and like you, not caught up in taking credit for his accomplishments. Thank you for everything, not the least of which is keeping the torch bright as you pass it to the next generation.
(14) CHIC N STU - Gotta love everything Dr Buss has done for the franchise. BRING ON SWEET SEVENTEEN!!
(15) LEWSTRS - Congratulations Dr. Buss...you definitely deserve to go into the NBA Hall of Fame... All your innovative ideas, commitment to winning, and aggressive spending for the best talent, has made the Lakers the best franchise in the league... As a loyal fan, I thank you for the exciting, memorable, and historic Laker moment you have provided... The Lakers are one of the bright spots in people lives, in these times of struggle... God Bless you....
(16) GREYWOLF - dating more 18 year old girls than Hefner is his most impressive feat. Trading Snaq and re-signing Kobe were pretty good decisions too though.
(17) JAY WOO - it is really difficult to write anything about Jerry Buss in such a limit paragraph. I remember seeing him here in Bakersfield Robobank for the pre-season lakers games two year in a row. You would think the owner would a least seat next to the team or court side . Wrong? He's seating at a regular seating like me and you. I approached him for an autograph and thanks him for bringing the Lakers in town. When I see him in person, I can tell right away that he put the team first in term of winning and the fans second. He is just a winner and the best owner in sport history. no doubt......
(18) BRYANT ENG - Jerry Buss is simply the GREATEST OWNER IN PROFESSIONAL SPORTS!!!
(19) RICK FRIEDMAN - Jerry Buss' greatest achievement might just be Jeanie, who appears to have kept Phil in the fold longer than he might have otherwise.
(20) HUMANOMALY - "Six games into the 1981–82 season, Magic Johnson said he wished to be traded because he was unhappy playing for Westhead. Shortly afterward, Lakers' owner Jerry Buss fired Westhead. At an ensuing press conference, with Jerry West at his side, Buss named West head coach. West, however, balked, and Buss awkwardly tried to name West as "offensive captain" and then named West and Riley as co-coaches.[6] West made it clear during the press conference that he would only assist Riley, and that Riley was the head coach.[7] Thereafter, Riley was the interim head coach, until his status became permanent."So Riley became coach because of those jitters that the Logo always had under game coaching pressure. He handed the job off to Riley on the spot, without even telling Buss about it, I believe.
(21) ART-FL-LAKERS FAN - Best thing Jerry West has done, hard to pick one thing, will have to give that more thought. Right near the top of the list is, buying the Lakers.
(22) CORNER J - Thank you for this great honor. My remarks will be brief. A great man once said he didn't deserve the honors being bestowed on him, because in fact, "I have stood on the shoulders of giants." And so have I. Here today, I stand before you on the shoulders of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Kobe Bryant...and yes, you too, Shaquille O'Neal. Together, shoulder to shoulder, you have all carried me to this place, this point on the arc of my life. If I deserve anything at all for that journey, I would be satisfied enough if even one fan of the Los Angeles Lakers said, "He did everything he could to make their burden lighter and our joy greater." Thank you.
(23) JOLLY RANCHER - Buss has facilitated the creation of three of the greatest Laker...no, make that NBA teams in history. He's shown a knack for timing and recognizing when a player makes a team what it is (Magic, Shaq, and Kobe) and when a player's ego is more of a detriment than a benefit (Shaq). More than any other owner, Dr. Buss understands both basketball and the business of basketball and is able to balance when to keep a team together just to keep the money coming in, and when to blow a team up to ensure that titles will roll in. Is there a single moment to recall? There are hundreds of them from watching Showtime, The Lake Show, and the latest Laker's Dynasty.
(24) F68- Congrats Dr Buss, Go Lakers
(25) LAKERTOM - Great post celebrating Dr. Buss’ unmatched job as the best owner in the history of the NBA. And I agree 100% with you that it was the Showtime Lakers that revolutionized the game and brought fans and supporters back to the NBA. The greatest owner in professional sports bar none.
26) LAKER PEACE - The City of Los Angeles should declare today as the "JERRY BUSS DAY." I cannot recall many names who contribute more to the city than Mr. Buss.Who's going to introduce Jerry Buss at HOF induction today? Magic? I hope so.
(27) NEWMEXICOLAKERLIFER - Congratulation's Jerry Buss!! You have made us all Lakerholic's and we are proud to have you for an owner. You deserve this honor!! Our team is now complete and so happy we signed the Rooks. LaCon played it pretty low key last nite at the USA scrimmage. Wes I agree that he won't take the criticism and jeers cause he's never had to deal with it.On the other hand Kobe's always had to face it, and he just blocks it out. Should be an interesting year in Miami!!
(28) 63 FOOTER - Congrats Dr. Buss - well deserved I'll pay my fare to be on the Dr. Buss Bus. I'd like a window seat please.
(29) MAGIC PHIL - Regarding Dr Buss, what can I say besides that he is THE BEST OWNER EVER. PERIOD. Dr Buss seems to like winning over profit, and that says it all. If there's one thing we all need to tell him is THANK YOU DR BUSS!!!!!!!!!!!! Cheers. HOW I BECAME A LAKERS FAN Growing up in the 70's, we didn't have too much to do, so one of my favorite things was the Harlem Globetrotters. They used to come to our city once a year, and I was always there. What they did w/ the bball was amazing. I knew it was all setup, but I still loved just to see those things. By that time, the NBA and FIBA were 2 different things. Rules were different, etc...The NBA was not appealing for me, the "effective" bball didn't sparkle my eyes...Until I saw Magic Johnson. When I first saw Magic play, that was the 1980 season, I was IN SHOCK. The guy plays for the NBA, but at the same time, he was doing some globetrotters stuff. That was it! Showtime! I was involved with other things (volleyball...) and I didn't follow him like I wanted, but in 1985 I decided to watch the entire NBA season for the 1st time. Magic was awesome...no words can describe what I saw...We won, etc... Now I know that the reason I'm a Laker is not only Magic, it is Dr. Buss! For me, SHOWTIME is more important than even
(30) ROCKY - **Thank you Jerry Buss. You deserve the HOF honor
(31) D(EREK) J(ETER) - Dr. Buss, the Best owner in sports today! Was tied with the "BOSS," George, who left us just recently.
(32) LONGTIMELAKERLOVER- Congratulations to the best owner of the best franchise in sports. Let's get #17!
(33) PUDDLE - That model led The Times' Bill Plaschke to argue during the 2007-08 season that Buss remains 'the best owner in the history of professional sports.'"Bill Plaschke actually got something right? My world is spinning out of control! Have I been the victim of inception? Is this a dream? What is happening?!
(34) FRMKT - Lakers... Still relevant after all these years! Congrats to Buss, Jerry and Magic - IN BUSS WE TRUST
(35) SAMLL - Congrats, Dr. Buss! You're the best owner of the best franchise! You deserve it! These words from Buss caught my eye: "I was blessed with having multiple Hall of Famers around me," he said, "starting with Bill Sharman and Jerry West and then going on to Pat Riley and Phil Jackson. Then, you get players like Magic, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, James Worthy and Kobe Bryant. Probably nobody in my 31-year period has been surrounded by as many Hall of Fame people and future Hall of Famers as I have."Hmmm... no mention of Snaq... methinks the Big Old Baby has to apologize to Buss before he can see his number retired. Groveling is good, too.
(36) M-PHOTO - Dr. Buss, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
(37) TEAMN - Dr. Buss, Don't know if anyone from the team reads this blog, but I wanted to say thank you for your perseverance, your intelligence, and your commitment to the fans. You have given us so much to cheer for it is almost unbelievable. And, you gave us the Laker girls. That alone is HoF worthy.
(38) BRONXLAKERFAN - Mamba24....please put me on the Dr. Jerry bandwagon. Dr. Buss has always given me the sense that he really loves HIS team. It's more than a business with him, the Lakers are his calling.

Lewstrs... We now need our CARAVAN with the signings of Brown, Ebanks and Caracter and our Hall of Fame Coach and owner, I think we are ready to roll!! Our team will be so awesome. Can't wait for the season to start.

Spot on MM, spot on!

Cheers - PLG

Dr. Buss was correct in naming all the great players, coaches, and managers that helped him create the great success of the Lakers organization. His use of new avenues for televised broadcasts was excellent. His "Showtime" entertainment philosophy, including the new Staples Center, helped make NBA games a center-piece of sports in the City of LA. Truly a NBA Hall of Fame owner. Great job Dr. Buss!


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