Lakers fans are spoiled. It’s a fact, no matter how hard it may be to accept. The current generation of youngsters have seen nearly as many title-winning teams as those that failed to win titles. They’ve seen the Lakers bring in Hall of Famers like Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Steve Nash, and Dwight Howard. They’re most spoiled by Kobe Bryant, who only within the last year has appeared as a mortal being.
So when things go bad, the finger starts getting pointed. The natural, and most common, person to poke at is Jim Buss, who has been the at the helm of the Lakers over the disappointing last two seasons. He doesn’t have the charming demeanor of his sister Jeanie, or the history of success of Mitch. He’s unfairly blamed for hiring Mike D’Antoni, unfairly blamed for the roster physically falling apart, and too often used as a scapegoat.
Jim Buss is the villain to Lakers fans.
Across the hallway from Buss (metaphorically) sat Donald Sterling. We’ve now learned of his disgusting thoughts, which no longer need media attention. What the Clippers had was a true villain. Sterling was despicable in every sense of the word. Regardless of how long it took the NBA and fans to take notice and take a stand doesn’t change the character of Sterling. He’s the epitome of awful.
Donald Sterling is the villain to Clippers (and NBA) fans.
Compare, for just a moment, the villains. The Clippers have a truly disgusting villain. The Lakers have a man who has listened to his father’s final wishes by hiring D’Antoni, assembled a roster that, when healthy, would have been a title contender last season, and has been subjected to all of the hatred from Lakers fans. The Buss family has spoiled Lakers fans.
Few franchises have the stability the Lakers have. The Buss family, starting with Jerry, have owned the Lakers since 1979. Following a handful of injuries, Mitch Kupchak transitioned to the Lakers front office in 1987. Realistically, the only significant change in the Lakers front office was Jerry West‘s departure in 2002. For the better part of nearly 30 years, the Lakers front office has not changed, an unprecedented run. Since 1987, the Lakers have had THREE losing seasons.
It’s easy to get caught in the moment and become frustrated with the Lakers season. Fans are calling for Jim Buss’ firing. All he’s done is complete trades for an All-Star center and two All-Star point guards (one of which was vetoed). He carried out his dying father’s final wish to bring in the man who they hoped could revitalize Showtime. He ensured that the franchise’s best player ever finished his career a Laker, no questions asked.
It’s easy to call Jim Buss the villain. But remember the stability and success the Buss family has brought the Lakers and keep it in context with the league. There’s certainly far worse owners, and far, far worse human beings, who could be leading us.