The flashing images of Jerry Buss hoisting countless NBA championship trophies seemed endless. The footage of Buss interacting with his coaches and players alike felt the same way. And through it all, Hall of Fame players and executives gushed the late Lakers owner with praise.
“Here was a man who not only changed basketball,” former Lakers general manager Jerry West said in a video recently put together by Time Warner Cable Media. “He changed all sports.”
That he did.
Buss’ legacy went beyond helping the Lakers winning 10 of their 16 NBA championships after purchasing the team in 1979. He didn’t put much of a price tag on acquiring superstars. Buss hired talented people in their field, such as front office types (West, Bill Sharman, Mitch Kupchak) and coaches (Pat Riley, Phil Jackson) and let them do their job. Buss fulfilled this job description with style, too.
“Dr. Buss understood he had to make the Lakers entertaining,” Magic Johnson said on the video. “He wanted the Forum and the Lakers to be happening. He got the Laker girls and got the band up there. Then everyone was like, ‘This is where it’s happening.'”
As a result, the Lakers brand became attractive enough to prompt a lucrative 20-year deal worth Time Warner Cable believed to be valued at around $3 billion. It’s allowed the Lakers to absorb harsher luxury tax penalties stemmed from the NBA’s recent collective bargaining agreement. The deal also gave them an around-the-clock platform to promote their organization.
“This exceeded our expectations,” said Jeanie Buss, who’s now the Lakers President.
But can the Lakers reached those expectations without the late owner’s presence? The Lakers and their fan base anxiously await
“As a kid watching them growing up winning championship after championship,” Kobe Bryant said, “you don’t understand the business aspect that goes into that.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org