Tonight, Wednesday February 20th, 2013, the Los Angeles Lakers will take on their arch rivals the Boston Celtics. It is possible this rivalry may never be the same, but tonight these Lakers have some personal business they need to take care of for Dr. Buss. The Lakers need to throw all their troubles, records, injuries, trades and rumors of trades, etc . . . out the window, the Boston Celtics cannot get out of the Staples Center tonight with a win.
Can you imagine Riles, the Captain, Magic, Big Game and Silk in a game situation like this? Dr. Buss would still love his players if they lost this game, but deep down in his championship laden soul where he was one NBA championship title away from tying the Celtics he would want this regular season game like no other. One of the qualities that made Dr. Buss unique is that he would want this win more for his players than for himself. The Lakers have company (Buss)iness tonight!
The timing of this game would not and could not fly in a Hollywood script that tried to set this scenario in a movie. This time life trumps Hollywood. Everything happens for a reason sometimes we just do not understand why.
Dr. Jerry Buss passed away at 5:55am on February 18th, 2013, Presidents Day, a day of celebration of greatness. The timing of it all has a reason, the why is where questions lie. The timing of Dr. Jerry Buss’ passing was set at fives, 5 NBA titles in 1980s, 5 NBA titles in the 2000s and inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on the 5th day of April, 2012.
The Lakers need to take care of their business against the Boston Celtics because Dr. Buss took care of his business over a lifetime. Dr. Buss was an investing man. His legendary pastime was poker, but his greatest chance investment was his trust in people, his generosity to people and his humanity towards people. All people he came in contact with felt these qualities in Jerry Buss.
Jerry Buss took the poverty he and his family experienced as a youth, the tough jobs he worked as a ditch digger and bellhop as a young adult in the cold tundra of Wyoming winters to help form who he wanted to be. He took his mathematical gift for numbers and chemistry talent to forge an education in a new land of promise where dreams are made real. Through these experiences a young Jerry Buss to developed the spirit of a champion, becoming a lover of people with an uncanny vision of what could be even if it was not yet seen.
From a PH.D to an aerospace worker, a $1,000.00 investment in real-estate with a co-worker, an empire ensued. During these times there were many adversities and obstacles that had to be overcome but Jerry Buss was ready and at the right time he made that shift of faith from a real-estate mogul to a NBA owner and pioneer.
His innovation and masterful accounting genius as the pursuer and eventual owner of the Los Angeles Lakers is well documented. The purchase of the Lakers, Kings, the Forum and a large acreage farm from previous owner Jack Kent Cook is a tale of legend and master accounting to pull the deal off. Lakers dancing girls, courtside seats, selling naming rights, Dr. Jerry Buss had vision.
Where his visionary gifting was most potent is the way he treated people. In this season where the Machiavellian way, the bottom line is all about me and mine no matter who gets hurt along the way of doing business. Dr. Buss was the antithesis of today’s way of doing business.
Jerry Buss understood the value of people, respect, trust, teamwork, generosity and doing unto others as you would have them do unto you when you are the hierarchy of an empire is a foundation of Dr. Buss’ success in everything he has accomplished. Dr. Buss was a numbers guy so the bottom line he truly understood but he did not allow the bottom line to dictate a very important fact. You are going to need people to see you from a vision to reality without leaving a trail of destruction of bodies thrown to the wayside on your march to the top. He loved the beautiful ladies and poker but the people he helped and inspired will be his true legacy. If his children continue the ways of their father the Lakers and the NBA are in for a great new continuation of character, kindness and greatness = championships.
Bill Sharman, (a former Boston Celtic), has been on the Lakers payroll as a coach, with Jack Kent Cook and then with Jerry Buss as the Lakers owner, the GM, team president, consultant, etc . . . all while Sharman was gradually losing his voice after years of yelling on the Lakers sideline. Each time Sharman felt he was a liability Dr. Buss would find him a more accommodating job in the Lakers organization. Dr. Buss valued Bill Sharman the employee and friend. Dr. Buss did the unthinkable in business believing what he was doing was the right thing to do. He mixed business with friendship, family and the city of Los Angeles, a no no in the business arena.
Walt Hazzard was glad that Jerry Buss respected and appreciated his contributions to the organization and after a stint as UCLA’s head coach, Dr. Buss hired Walt Hazzard into the Lakers organization and continued his employment during a season of health problems to his eventual death in 2011.
Dr. Buss signed a one year, fourteen million dollar contract with Erving “Magic” Johnson that Buss stated was to reward and repay Johnson for the years he should have been the highest paid player in the league. Johnson had been diagnosed with the HIV disease and was returning to try and play again under his new contract. Early in this reward season Johnson was basically forced to retire after the outcry of ignorance was too much. Johnson did not finish the year leaving the Lakers early on in the season.
Dr. Buss made a wonderful decision upon Johnson’s second retirement by paying Johnson’s fourteen million contract in full. You hear the exploits of the heart of Dr. Jerry Buss from his former and current players, employees, fans, at Dan Tana’s restaurant in West Hollywood his favorite or the cleaning crew at the Forum and now the Staple Center. The kind words, whimsical solutions, respectful and caring heart of the designer of “Show Time” expands a landscape too vast to list here.
He knew the game of basketball. He did not micro-manage the people he hired to important jobs, he trusted them to get the job done and they did. He was a player’s owner. James Worthy told a story about a party Dr. Buss invited him to for the Lakers. Worthy had just joined the team and said that he thought the party was for the Lakers players and management only, but to his surprise he saw people from the gardeners to the maintenance to the management in attendance.
Dr. Jerry Buss will be missed. The Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA has lost an irreplaceable person but his formula lives on, hopefully it is utilized. It works.
Yes, the Lakers need to win this one tonight against Boston for the People’s Champion Dr. Buss, and two more NBA titles wouldn’t hurt either, one to tie and one to pass the Boston Celtics for the team with most NBA championships.