The following is just a small sampling from the reaction around the Internet (and around the world) on the passing of Lakers owner Jerry Buss.
“We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community… (He) showed his amazing strength and will to live. It was our father’s often stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family. The Lakers have been our lives as well and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy.”
—Statement from the Buss family
“The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come. More importantly, we have lost a dear and valued friend. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time.”
—NBA Commissioner David Stern
“I’m deeply saddened over the loss of the great Dr. Jerry Buss. He was a dear friend, keen mentor and brilliant businessman. He’ll always be remembered for his dedication in bringing the best to the purple and gold and I’m proud to have been part of his honorable legacy. My heart and prayers go out to the Buss family and friends. Dr. Buss will be deeply missed by this big man.”
“I had the pleasure of working with Jerry closely for the last 10 years on league matters. He was a wonderful business colleague, brilliant competitor and became a good friend. Although our teams competed in two Finals during that time, the friendship never wavered. He will be greatly missed and the entire Celtics organization offers condolences to the Buss family and Lakers organization.”
—Celtics’ CEO Wyc Grousbeck
Magic Johnson shredded Jim Buss — son of Jerry Buss and the guy running the Los Angeles Lakers now — on national television. And he spoke for a lot of Lakers fans when he did it.
Magic said he trusted Jerry, not Jim. He said Mike Brown was a mistake hire from the start and to replace him with Mike D’Antoni when Phil Jackson wanted the job was another mistake. And Lakers fans everywhere were nodding along.
But Kobe Bryant came to the younger Buss’ defense. From the Los Angeles Times.
“[Johnson’s] opinion is valued greater than most others because of what he’s done here with this franchise. I can only speak from my perspective in my dealings with Jim. He’s been phenomenal,” Bryant said. “He’s seemingly made all the right choices. Going back in time, I’m sure he would have called me and consulted me on the Mike Brown hiring but that is what it is. Other than that, he’s been behind some pretty good moves, some pretty good trades for this organization.”
Jim Buss clearly wants a ring to validate his spin as head guy for the Lakers. He found a way — and was willing to pay — to bring in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard while keeping Kobe and Pau Gasol. When he realized (later than he should have) that Mike Brown was not the coach to get this team a ring, he made an aggressive move to get someone he thought could.
That person was never going to be Phil Jackson. The relationship with Jackson and Buss was rocky, when Jackson left Buss cleared out a lot of people in the organization believed to be “Jackson’s people,” and Buss only asked Jackson about the job because they thought he’d say no and they could tell fans “hey, we tried.” When Jackson was interested they were caught in a spot they didn’t predict.
That is the one big difference so far from the Jerry to Jim Buss transition — Jerry was playing chess. He was three moves ahead in his mind and had thought out the possible outcomes of moves. Then he would act, and take risks, but they were calculated. This didn’t feel like that at all. Jim Buss has felt reactionary. But with enough money to cover his mistakes.
Lakers owner since 1979 Jerry Buss has been in poor health at points in the last year and the Lakers confirmed the 78-year-old had surgery last week.
What kind of surgery? They won’t say. From the Los Angeles Times.
“He did have surgery and it went fine,” Lakers spokesman John Black said. “He’s not home yet, but he’s expected to make a full recovery….”
Buss’ son, Jim, the Lakers’ executive vice president of player personnel, on Friday told Times columnist T.J. Simers that his father got “out of surgery 14 hours ago” when the owner called Friday morning wanting details about the Lakers’ acquisition of Dwight Howard from the Orlando Magic.
“I was with him [Thursday] night and he was basically incoherent and he was going to be like that for two or three days,” Buss told Simers.
Remember Jerry Buss was hospitalized last month for dehydration.
He has turned the running of the Lakers over to his son Jim Buss, someone not really trusted at first by Lakers fans because they didn’t know him as anything other than as a horse-training partier (they did know Jeanie Buss, who had worked to cultivate a relationship with the fans).
However, the Lakers moves this summer to land Steve Nash and Dwight Howard have given Jim Buss some real credibility with the large Lakers fan base who think it could be like father/like son.
Kobe Bryant is too smart to go on the Lakers flagship radio station in Los Angeles and rip his boss. He’d have you read between the lines of a terse statement.
But that’s not what he did.
Kobe was on the Mason and Ireland show on ESPN Radio in L.A. (John Ireland is the Lakers radio play-by-play voice) and when asked about Jim Buss gave a pretty glowing response. (Thanks to Brian Kamenetzky of Land O’ Lakers for the transcription).
“We have a good relationship. People misunderstand that relationship. We’ve had good times. We’ve had dinner together, things like that. He’s a great guy. He wants to do the right thing, he wants to help us win a championship. The biggest thing is, the same with his father who he’s learned from, he’s not going to make rushed decisions. He’s going to be patient, he’s going to take his time, and the one thing I will say about the Lakers organization is that this is one of those franchises that always seems to land on it’s feet. Always seems to make the right choices, always seems to make the right decisions. Even the tough ones. He’s a great guy.”
Jerry Buss has been very good at thinking in terms of the big picture during his tenure. He has made the hard choices and done things he may not have wanted to do (bring back Phil Jackson in 2005, for example) because it was the right thing for the business.
Jim Buss has yet to show that kind of vision. Right now the book is still out on him as an owner, we do not have enough information to make an informed decision. There may be signs of concern, but those are short term. What Lakers fans know is they do have a relationship with and trust the more visible Jeanie Buss. Jim did a live chat with fans on the team site yesterday, he needs to do more things like that to start to establish that trust.
But in the end, he will be judged by rings and keeping the Lakers a perennial power. Unfortunately for Jim Buss, he will be judged by the bar his father set.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been hospitalized due to blood clots in his legs, reports the Orange County Register.
It is not considered serious and Buss, 77, is expected to be released in the next couple days, reports the Orange County Register.
“He’s doing well,” (Lakers spokesman John) Black said Wednesday evening.
Black said the condition occurred because of “excessive travel.” Buss has been going to New York recently for NBA lockout negotiations, but Black did not elaborate on where else Buss has traveled.
Buss has owned the Lakers since 1979, when he bought the team for $67 million (that price included the Forum arena, the NHL’s Kings and a ranch). Buss has been an inovator in presenting the game as entertainment, including having a dance team and using rock music in the arena. The Lakers also have won 10 championships under his ownership.
In recent years the elder Buss has turned day-to-day operation of the team over to his children. Jim Buss runs the basketball side of the operation while daugher Jeanie Buss runs the business side. His other children also are involved in the organization.