Dr. Jerry Buss: A Retrospective on the Best Owner in Sports by Mike Trudell

 
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vasashi17+
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:35 am    Post subject: Dr. Jerry Buss: A Retrospective on the Best Owner in Sports by Mike Trudell

Great read and revisit to key stone moments that made most of us Laker fans to begin with. Great quotes and stories inside the link!

https://www.nba.com/lakers/news/021020-dr-jerry-buss-oral-history-greatest-owner-in-sports
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JUST-MING
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:34 pm    Post subject:


    (My decision to stay) was 100 percent Dr. Buss.

    As a player, you have to put your trust in the organization … and some organizations nowadays have so many different shareholders and board members and people that are making decisions by committee and all this crazy stuff. With the Lakers, it was one man. And so, I had to trust him.

    And when I heard from him, not just with the telegram but then sitting down with him in Barcelona and looking at him eye to eye. We talked for about an hour and a half, two hours, and I decided to believe in him, and he believed in me. It was a conversation that only he and I knew about. We didn’t tell Mitch (Kupchak), we didn’t tell anybody about that. It was just a conversation (Dr. Buss) and I had. We just stayed the course. We were out there on family vacation, and (Dr. Buss) was in Italy, and he hopped a plane to come sit with me.

    Coincidentally, I went to work out the next morning, and I was looking for gyms out there. The hotel recommended this (gym), and I went there in the morning, and Pau Gasol was there. I went there in the morning, and it was rare, because Pau never wakes up in the morning to work out! He was talking about wanting to get out of Memphis and all this stuff, and I’m like, ‘Man it’d be great if we could play together.’ I’ve always had respect for him, known his family. And little did we know we’d be teammates months later … extremely serendipitous.

    — Kobe Bryant

    It was weird timing, because Kobe was during that time also unhappy and there were stories of him potentially getting traded, or being able to move on from L.A., and then looking for a different situation. I was also in a position where I felt like I needed to move on and change scenery in a different situation because Memphis was going through a very tough, tough stretch with (former Grizzlies owner Michael) Heisley trying to sell the team, and constant rebuilding. We weren’t getting better to the point that I needed our team to be.

    So, it was interesting timing how we both ran into each other in Barcelona during a family trip from him, and he came to the gym I used to work out at in a hotel in Barcelona. And we just talked about how cool it would be if we could actually end up playing together, but I hardly gave it a thought, because I thought there was no way they would trade me to the Lakers. It wasn’t even in my mind. It was too good to be true. And guess what, a few months later, it ended up happening, and our paths crossed and we had an incredible run and were able to win championships.

    Life is funny that way. I’m super thankful how Kobe wanted me on board, how Dr. Buss also was in favor and supportive of getting me and doing what it took to get me to the Lakers. I couldn’t be more thankful for all the parties involved in that trade, because it really changed my career here in the NBA, and gave me a second life.

    — Pau Gasol


Last edited by JUST-MING on Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:15 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:27 pm    Post subject:

JUST-MING wrote:
Dr. Jerry Buss is responsible for popularizing the sport of basketball.

Laker girls
Dancing Barry
Local television contracts

None of that existed before Dr. Buss.

I roll my eyes every time someone ignorantly credits David Stern for popularizing the sport. David Stern should get credit for rigging the draft, referees betting on and fixing games, and vetoing a trade.
I think Magic Johnson and Larry Bird deserve a little bit of the credit.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:33 pm    Post subject:

Great read! Thanks
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:19 pm    Post subject:


    There was another interesting time back home in North Carolina when I was watching the draft on TV, and nobody had been talking about me being traded, and I hadn’t heard any rumors or anything. I was just sitting there. And they said, ‘Now the Dallas Mavericks come up.’ They said, ‘Word is that the Lakers may trade James Worthy to Dallas for Roy Tarpley, a couple other players and a draft pick’. And then at the end of that, they said someone talked to Magic (Johnson), and Magic approved the trade. That’s all I heard. And I was really just flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was just starting to play well, starting to blend in. So a sports writer for the Los Angeles Herald named Frank Grady, he got ahold of me, and I was really still upset and emotional and I just went ballistic. I was like, ‘Listen, I haven’t talked to anybody from the Lakers organization, no one has called me, I don’t know if it’s true.’ He said, ‘Well, we think it’s true, we’ve talked to Jerry West.’ I said, ‘Well you know what, I don’t know who the manager is of this team. I don’t know if it’s Jerry West, or if it’s Magic, I don’t know what’s going on.’ I just couldn’t believe it. I’d have at least expected a phone call or something. But I do remember saying ‘I don’t know who management is.’

    So I got back to L.A., and Dr. Buss called me in his office, and he’s like, look, ‘This is a business, this is the way it goes, we don’t have to tell you.’ I said, ‘I at least expect a phone call.’ He said ‘I understand you’re upset, it was taken out of context.’ Of course, I had to go talk to Magic too, and Magic said ‘They’d have to give up a lot more to get James Worthy.’ You know how that goes. Trying to clear the air. But one things I remember that stood out to me, as nice as Dr. Buss was, he was really a good owner … but he looked at me and said, ‘Look, I understand you’re upset. You have a right to express yourself.’ He took a drag of his cigarette, and he said, ‘But when you say management … that’s me.’ And he didn’t say anything after that. I just looked at him. And I knew, don’t talk about management. Don’t talk about the owner. That was a lesson learned.

    — James Worthy
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:28 pm    Post subject:

This whole series is So. Good.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:08 pm    Post subject:


    When Dr. Buss first bought the team, he looked at what we were charging for floor seats, and knew based on anecdotal data of talking to people that with a young Magic Johnson and this team, he could charge more. There was no secondary market, but he knew that he was leaving money on the table and he was under indexing for certain price points. He knew that he had this hot team in the Lakers in the early years of Showtime, but the Kings were always a tough sell. So he created the Senate seats program … sort of the precursor to the club suites program.

    He basically created premium seating, and nobody else was doing this stuff at the time.

    — Tim Harris

    Dr. Buss liked to go the horse races at Hollywood Park, and he was great at picking winners. He’d meet his friends there, and some of his friends were executives at Great Western Bank. So they’re chatting one time, and he says, ‘Hey, would you like to put your name on the building?’ They say, ‘How would that work?’ Dr. Buss says, ‘Well, you’re going to pay me, we’d agree upon a price, and it would become the Great Western Forum.’

    And boom. Naming rights. It’s unbelievable what he did. It’s the first thing you do now when you’re going to build a building.

    — Tim Harris

    It’s opening night for Staples Center: Nov. 3, 1999. I go up to the suite, and I sit down on the stairs next to him, and I said, ‘Well Doc, what do you think?’ He says, ‘It’s great. I love it.’ He was very appreciative, very happy. And he said, ‘I have one suggestion for you, Tim: It’s really bright in here.’ I said, ‘It is. It is. Dr. Buss, it’s because the lights are so high up in the ceiling, and in order to make the court bright enough for broadcast, it’s really bright.’ He says, ‘I understand, but can you keep an eye on that?’

    So in 2004, the NBA came in with the All-Star game, and they brought in rigging with lights to create that sort of Broadway musical focus on the court. I talked to him, and I said, ‘Dr. Buss, a few years ago you mentioned the lights … is this what you had in mind?’ He said, ‘This is exactly what I had in mind.’ Dr. Buss was a big Broadway guy. He loved plays, and he wanted the focus to be on the athletes and the court.

    So I talked to the NBA, and that started the process of us putting the lighting in that we have now. That iconic, focus-on-the-court lighting, started on Nov. 3, 1999.

    — Tim Harris
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:36 pm    Post subject:

Terrific piece, great job by Trudell.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:23 am    Post subject:


    He always treated me very well. We shared a hobby as coin collectors, and Dr. Buss owned some really important coins, and I was aware of that. We had something to talk about immediately, and he was flattered to know that I was aware. He was very, very friendly, and the door was always open. We never had any problems to talk about, except for any games that we might lose. I thought we had a great professional relationship, and over the years I got to know him and be friends with him. Especially after I retired, we spent time together. A lot of good times, and so much success on the court. It was incredible.

    — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

    I first met him at Muhammad Ali’s retirement party at the Forum. I played two years for Mr. Cooke, so I could really see the difference (right away). Immediately when Dr. Buss bought the team, he invited me to the party, and he said, ‘You know Jamaal, if Muhammad won’t come to the mountain, the mountain will come to Muhammad.’ There’s a very subtle story there, because what he was saying is, we could both reach out. It wouldn’t just be me reaching out.

    And that’s how I recollect my relationship with him. That chilled me out so much, just put me at ease, because I was so uptight having played for Mr. Cooke … Dr. Buss was just such a great boss to play for.

    — Jamaal Wilkes

    I was a young player in Portland, and I knew about Jack Kent Cooke and what his reputation was, but we all heard about this man named Dr. Buss buying the Lakers, Kings and the Forum, and some real estate properties for what was an exorbitant amount of money at the time. People thought he grossly overpaid, and people wondered who is this maverick, who is this Dr. Buss? But then right away, the Lakers started winning championships, and “Showtime” was coined, and little did I know that I’d get a chance to join them years later.

    — Mychal Thompson

    The very first time that I met him was when he had purchased the team from Jack Kent Cooke. I was working with Chick Hearn in the broadcast booth, but I remember meeting him at the Forum and had a very, very light discussion about the real estate business, and then I realized I was renting one of his apartments in Santa Monica, he and Frank Mariani. He said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s my building!’ and I said, ‘Well, that’s great, maybe I can get free rent or something like that!’

    But I do remember that there was this zest and this absolute excitement and enthusiasm that he had when he bought the Lakers and he became the owner. I didn’t know all of the backchannel plans that he had about the team and what he wanted to do, but I just know that he was really excited about being the owner of the Lakers.

    And I was happy to be a part of it, because Jack Kent Cooke, as great a businessman as he was, he was tough. He was a little bit more military stylistic of leadership than Jerry was. I’m not saying that Jerry was the opposite, but he was a lot more fun than I think Jack was.

    — Pat Riley

    The first time I met Dr. Buss was my second time coming to Los Angeles after I was drafted in 1979, because the first time, Jack Kent Cooke and Jerry West and Chick Hearn were the guys I met. When the deal was complete that Dr. Buss bought the Lakers, we had lunch, and we hung out for the whole weekend. We talked about his vision, and all types of things. He was a first-time owner. I was a rookie. We really hit it off. It was really tremendous. He took me to (some parties), and different places, introducing me to people, and it was a great time. Then I went back home, and the next time I saw him was training camp.

    Every day, we’d just hang out together between practice sessions. We’d usually eat, hang out by the pool and talk after the morning session, and then after the evening session, a lot of times we’d go to dinner together. We just clicked. There was something about both of us. It wasn’t owner-player, it was two guys hanging out. I think he knew, with me being 20 and alone all the way from Michigan, he became a father figure to me. He understood that I needed that, and I would have been lost out here in this big city. From then on, I was at his house every weekend during the season, it seemed like. Or to USC football games. We’d played pool until 2 or 3 in the morning … he loved to play 8 ball, and he was much better than me. And we’d go out and he’d introduce me to some of the really good night clubs at the time during the time that I could go out.

    Because he found out very quick that I was very serious about winning, and he respected that. Nights after the game, he’d tease me, because we’d go to have dinner at Dan Tanas or somewhere like that, and I’d say, ‘I have to go home, we have practice in the morning.’ And he’d say, ‘That’s why I love you. You’re serious about winning and your craft.’ He understood me. I understood him, because he was a man that loved to have fun, but he was also very competitive at everything. Winning drove both of us. That’s another way we connected.

    — Magic Johnson

    Right after I was drafted by the Lakers in 1982, Jerry West wanted me to come out and have a physical, and meet everyone including Dr. Buss. So Jerry picked me up at the airport in his 944 Porsche. I’d never been in a Porsche before. I was with Jerry West, (a.k.a.) Mr. Clutch and going to meet everybody. Later on in the day, Dr. Buss was having a picnic for all his employees. People that worked in the Forum, his gardeners, people who worked in the parking lot … just everyday people. So that was one of the things I noticed about him. He was just really conscious of people around him and respected people that worked for him.

    But I hadn’t seen him yet. I was just told that he was having this picnic for employees, and how cool that was. So I came to this park, and I was with Jerry West and somebody from the Lakers front office, and I got disconnected from my hosts. So I was just wandering around, and I walked right by this one man who was wearing jeans and maybe an old sports jacket. Kinda rustic. He had a cigarette that he was holding down below his waist, and he would pull on it a little bit, and put it back down. And I walked right by him. I had no idea it was Dr. Buss. I had someone in my mind, me coming from the South, who was going to be really distinguished and have a suit on, and you’d be able to know who the owner was right away as soon as you seen him. And then they walked me back over and said, ‘Here’s Dr. Buss.’ Coming from Tobacco Road, North Carolina, I was like, ‘Damn, this is a cool dude!’

    I couldn’t believe he was just down to earth. Really cool. I was a little uptight, and didn’t really know what to expect, so my first impression just totally relaxed me.

    — James Worthy

    My first initial meeting I was kind of thrown back, because he didn’t seem like an owner. He was so cool when he introduced himself, so laid back. He had his jeans on with his sports coat, big smile on his face, open collared shirt. I’d never encountered somebody with that type of money and power to be so easy to talk to. Most people at that level were pretty standoffish. I was taken back by his willingness to be one of the guys, and his openness with his players was very enjoyable to be around.

    — Byron Scott

    I remember being at the Forum in Inglewood in 1985 in my rookie year, meeting Dr. Buss and him saying ‘Let’s have lunch one day.’ Time goes by until you decide, ‘I’m going to take him up on that.’ So we arranged a lunch, midweek after a practice, and went up to his office, and we had a real, genuine, 1-on-1 conversation talking about life itself outside of basketball. His passions, what brought him to the mindset of wanting to own a team and what he wants from a team, and then just L.A.; it was an all-new environment for me, and he wanted to make sure I knew about it and understand as much as I possibly could. He made sure they had the kind of food I wanted, and he was really attentive to the little details to make sure it was a comfortable environment to me. It was a father/son environment. Just so, so cool.

    — AC Green

    The first time I met him was in 1987 after I was hired, and Dr. Buss said, ‘You come with a good recommendation … Chickie Baby has recommended you highly. I need to say no more.’ I thought, this is the way it should be. This is the way owners should operate. When you hire someone and they meet your qualifications, let them do their job, and go from there. He always was that kind of an owner.

    — Stu Lantz

    In my rookie year, my first meeting with Dr. Buss, I didn’t speak English. We took a little bit longer to know each other, but he was great for me and for my family. Having him around, you always felt support.

    Coming from Yugoslavia, I had some issue with military service, and there was an issue there that Dr. Buss made sure to let me know he was behind me and my family no matter what. That meant a lot to us at that particular time, because it was a very difficult time, uncertain. Am I going to have to go back to serve the army? He was there for us.

    And I remember a nice gesture from him, when I signed my extension during my third year, and I had to have a back surgery. There was a clause in the contract where the doctor had to give the green light because of my back, to have a contract valid, and Dr. Buss didn’t even wait for the doctors. He was like, ‘The contract is good. Don’t worry about it, kid. Just go out there and play’.

    — Vlade Divac

    The first time I met him was when we were in training camp in Hawaii, when he came into the gym in his jeans and his Hawaiian shirt, just watching practice. I connected with him more through others, some of the people that were tight with him, who would always tell me that ‘Dr. Buss said this’ or ‘Dr. Buss said that’. But when we did speak and get a chance to talk to each other, I thought it was real genuine. I thought he was really sincere about the things that he always said, so that’s what I appreciated the most about him.

    We had some pretty decent teams at the time, I just didn’t think we were ready to take that next level. In the 1990’s, basketball was a little different, and it took a team to win the title; it wasn’t put the best players on the court, it was all about teamwork and chemistry, and we were building towards that. So, Dr. Buss was one of the coolest owners I’ve been around. Very genuine, honest guy, and I respected him a lot.

    — Nick Van Exel

    Dr. Buss was truly an amazing man. You have to look at me coming in as a rookie, with Hall of Famers like Phil Jackson, Kobe and Shaq, and the history of the Lakers. Me coming from a DIII school, I’m one of the youngest, unknown guys, lowest on the totem pole. I’m like the janitor, pretty much. The times that he took out for 1-on-1 time to get me to feel comfortable, to tell me that he loved my game, that he wanted me to play confident.

    And after a few bad games, he’d send his driver to me after the game and say, ‘Hey I’ll be picking you up tomorrow at 6 p.m.,’ and we’d go sit down and have dinner. He’d play his cards. We’d sit around, we’d talk. And then I’d go home. I remember the first time we did it, during my second season, he told me, ‘Hey man I really like your game, I like the way you play, I want you to go back and play confident and I want you to know that I’m the boss, and I like you. So I want you to play confident.’

    Then at times, if I was struggling a bit later in the season, we’d do it again. For him to give me that 1-on-1, personal treatment considering where I stood on the team … that was treatment I thought he’d give Kobe or Shaq. Veteran guys. But he took the time (with me) a couple of times a year.

    — Devean George
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