On February 18, 2013, the sports world lost what many consider to be the greatest owner of all time in Dr. Jerry Buss. Aside from the 10 championships and 16 NBA Finals appearances under Dr. Buss’s tenure, this great man has meant much more to the Lakers organization and ultimately, the city of Los Angeles. It was Buss who had the wits to draft one of the best point guards of all time in Magic Johnson. It was Buss who traded for the most physically dominant big man the sport of basketball has ever seen in Shaquille O’Neal. It was once again Buss who traded Vlade Divac in the 1996 NBA Draft in order to obtain the greatest Laker of all time in Kobe Bryant. His foresight and vision caused the Lakers to become one of the most successful and renowned franchises in sports history. With signature moments such as Kobe Bryant’s alley-oop to Shaquille O’Neal in Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers to seal the Lakers’ comeback victory and earn an NBA Finals bid, or even Magic Johnson’s skyhook in the 1987 NBA Finals to beat the bitter rival Boston Celtics; how can anyone forget what was accomplished under this man’s leadership?
But Dr. Buss’s accomplishments exceed much more than what happened on the court. His vision was to have people recognize Los Angeles and the Lakers as one and to unite the city through his team’s banners. He would pride himself on remaining humble despite all of the money that he had obtained over the years. Jerry Buss would always have time to say hi to a fan or buy a Lakers’ fan a drink. He genuinely cared about the people of Los Angeles and was willing to take time out of his schedule to put this affection on display.
At Buss’s funeral, it was repeatedly touched upon by Kobe, Shaq, and Magic that he was like a second father to them. He was able to get the best out of all of his players and he truly wanted each and every one of them to succeed on and off the court. Kobe mentioned that in 2007, when he requested a trade, Buss was able to talk him into staying with the Lakers because of his cool and cunning manner. His foresight and vision for the future was capable of convincing Kobe to stay and eventually win 2 more championships in 2009 and 2010.
Ultimately, Dr. Buss was a great owner who truly changed the culture of LA. On behalf of Laker fans everywhere, thank you Dr. Jerry Buss and rest in peace.
Conner Hoyt ’15