The passing of Jerry Buss on Monday morning cast a pall over the entire NBA, the tributes that rolled in for the 80-year-old Los Angeles Lakers owner were many and heartfelt.
He was lauded as an innovator and a brilliant businessman (this is probably the best of many obituaries I’ve read) and someone to do whatever it took to create a buzz and a model franchise that would endure for years.
One of the best lines I heard, and I honestly don’t know where I read it was that Magic Johnson was the star of Showtime but Jerry Buss produced it.
In the Staples Center, there’s a tunnel where we get fresh air that’s just off the parking area for the players and Hollywood big wigs and it’s loaded with Bentleys and Mercedes Benzes and the like and it’s a great way to watch people coming to and going from the game.
And, most games, at some point in the evening I’d be standing there and here would come Buss, flanked by a bevy of beautiful, often-scantily clad young women with other handlers at his side.
It was funny to see and precisely the image Buss had to most of the world.
And that was his public persona, and it was a perfect fit for the city where his franchise dominated the sporting landscape. He was Hollywood and a show and so were the Lakers.
But Buss was much more than that and that’s what I thought set him apart from almost every other owner in every other sport.
He answered, to me, the eternal question:
What makes a good sports owner?
It’s three-pronged, really.
He was a bit flamboyant and I like that an awful lot. You want a bit of a colourful hand on the tiller, it gives an edge and a personality to a franchise, a character that’s sometimes bigger than the team.
He was willing to gamble and spend, to reward players and coaches with untold riches, there was a loyalty there that was important, I think.
And he was successful and that’s the bottom line. He helped create an atmosphere of excitement and success; the Lakers were pretty much always winners and if they took a momentary downturn, it was quickly halted and success came right back.
I’m not sure there has been an owner more linked to the city where his team played than Buss was in L.A.
He was flamboyant and he won; he made Lakers games “events” worth the attention of the beautiful people.
Won’t be another one like him, I don’t imagine.
For no other reason than I read somewhere that he was born this day and I cannot think of a Washington angle, a day with a little Smoky Robinson has to be a good day.
New twist to security going out of Houston yesterday morning.
We get to the spot where you get your boarding pass and passport checked and as you hand them over, the TSA dude quickly asks a question, just in case you’re pretending.
To the guy two in front of me:
“What’s your name?”
Yes, NBA players can be anonymous.
And I’m not sure just how this would go over with some basketball players but get to the gate for the flight here and there’s John Wall sitting across the aisle.
And there’s his somewhat gargantuan body guard two seats over.
Wearing a Chicago Bulls cap.
Guess the Wizards gear didn’t look as cool.
Can I just say that going from 20 C and sunny in Houston to about 5 C and gloomy skies in Washington is a rather big shock to the system.
Let me get this straight.
The agent for murder suspect Oscar Pistorius has to “announce” that his client will cancel races he was scheduled to run?
If that wasn’t obvious, I don’t know what is.
One of the fun games to play the day after all-star weekend is to show up at practice wherever it is and see if all the players got back.
Mo Pete was notorious for having “flight delays” or “travel problems” on the Monday after the break, missing practice and getting fined and it didn’t seem to trouble him too much.
But when we showed up at George Washington University last night (and a 6:30 p.m. start to practice sure lengthens your travel day) everyone was there which either says these guys are seasoned travellers on their own (that means commercial flights and the regular check-in process and getting all that stuff worked out) or none of them had enough fun to make them take another day of vacation.
Anything else with the HOTH?
Dwane told us they all were abuzz with congratulations for young Mr. Ross for his dunk contest win, coaches and players and staff were all happy for him and proud that he did something special for the franchise.
And then practice began and he was treated like just another rookie finding his way around the game. And Dwane made sure Ross wasn’t too full of himself, not that he would be because he’s not that kind of kid:
“Everyone congratulated him, said ‘Way to go Rook’ and then I immediately started to get on him about getting back on defence and rotating.”