Today the sports world has lost perhaps the greatest owner it’s ever known. The passing of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss was as inevitable as it is tragic. His declining health made him less visible in recent years. The recent reports of Dr. Buss being hospitalized for cancer let us all know this day was coming.
None the less the shock sent throughout the sports universe will reverberate for decades to come.
There will never be another trendsetter like Jerry Buss.
His shrewd business acumen combined with a flair for the dramatic and an unrivaled dedication to winning has made Buss the benchmark for ownership. Dr. Buss is that rarity in modern sports, an owner whose business was his team and nothing more. Dr. Buss wasn’t a bored billionaire looking to find a new investment. He wasn’t hiding in the shadows, pushing buttons and pulling strings like some mythical Wizard of Oz character.
Dr. Buss was front and center allowing the world to see his face and know his presence as he left an indelible fingerprint on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Simply put his business was basketball. Once he purchased the Lakers all his efforts and financial commitments went directly into his team. But beyond his fiduciary responsibilities Buss sought to do what all great owners should aspire to – entertain and win.
Above all else sports are a form of entertainment. What makes success in the sports world so difficult is that winning ultimately dictates the true stature of a franchise. Consider the fact that many of the top grossing movies every year fail to achieve critical acclaim or recognition in the form of awards.
Plenty of owners have been able to entertain in sports. So few have been able to win.
Buss accomplished both in historic fashion.
Dr. Buss built 10 NBA championships, a perennial contender that hardly ever missed the postseason. He recruited the best minds in the game, attracted the most superior of talent, sought out the greatest coaches, scouts and front office personnel and above all else relied on them to do their jobs.
There was no need for Dr. Buss to meddle in the affairs of the men he hired. He trusted them to do their job though his word was always the last.
Whereas many owners have been able to build a winner Buss built winners – plural. Perhaps most amazing of all was that in the entertainment capital of the world Buss made the Lake Show the hottest ticket in Los Angeles.
Countless celebrities, movers and shakers in the business world not to mention hoops fans worldwide flocked to the humble confines of the Forum in Inglewood just to see the Lakers. When the Purple and Gold took the court the lights were dimmed so as to focus the attention on the team like a Broadway production. That tradition eventually made its way to Staples Center as the Lakers transitioned into a new home and a new era that yielded the trademark Buss results.
Now a new transition begins, one that has truthfully been underway for some time now. No matter the level of success that may or may not come in the next decade for the Lakers there is one thing that is for sure. There will never be another Jerry Buss and no one will ever revolutionize the sports world in the same manner again.
Today we lost a legend yet gained a legacy that will forever serve as the blueprint for success.