OT - Laker owner Dr. Jerry Buss has passed away

Submitted by kehnonymous on February 18th, 2013 at 4:52 PM


Title says it all. :(


A sad, though not unexpected, day for all professional basketball fans.  I lived in L.A. for the first seven years of my life, just as the Showtime era began, and I learned to love the Lakers somewhere between mastering potty training and my ABC’s.  In short, I was aware that the NBA was a thing for almost the entire 33-year run that Dr. Jerry Buss was the Laker’s owner.  In that time, my favorite pro team has been to the Finals sixteen times and won ten titles.  Suffice it to say that I’ve been spoiled as an NBA fan.  That this season has so spectacularly gone to shit does not diminish the Laker’s run of success, but rather testifies to a culture of winning and expecting championships that Dr. Buss made into a hallmark of being a Laker.  Many people have said (not without reason) that the Lakers are basketball’s version of the Yankees; in my infinite arrogance, I would submit that it’s the Yankees are baseball’s version of the Lakers.


As such, I’m not exactly impartial, but it is my considered opinion that Dr. Buss was the best professional sports owner in all four major leagues.  Much like fellow Laker legend Chick Hearn whose vocal mannerisms are now standard basketball parlance, Dr. Buss’ contributions reach far and wide beyond.  He certainly had no small amount of help from Magic and Kareem and Kobe, but Dr. Buss did was much as anyone else to make the NBA relevant - to make games an *event*.  How many people remember that Magic’s legendary close-out game in the 1980 finals was shown on tape delay?  That’d be inconceivable today.  I suspect many people here are Pistons or Bulls fans – I’m sure you have fond memories of the great teams they had during the 90’s.  But besides all the winning, don't you also remember ancillary moments like The Final Countdown blaring through The Palace during the 4th quarter?  John Mason saying ‘Joe Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuumars!’ after another clutch bucket by #4?  Dimming the lights and introducing the Bulls starters to Allan Parson’s ‘Sirius’?  All of that started with Jerry Buss.  Most of all, Jerry Buss knew how *not* to be Jerry Jones.


To bring this topic within a country mile of MGoBlog’s purview, it’s easy and probably apt to compare Jerry Buss to Bo.   They were both, for lack of a better word, icons.  In their passing they left footprints so large and so deep that they’re impossible to fill.  Michigan will always have Bo Schembechler’s indelible legacy to live up to and it’s no less the same for the Lakers in the post-Jerry Buss era.  Without going to the ugly details it’s no secret that the Lakers have an even bigger leadership void to fill.  As a Michigan and a Laker fan, it’s hard not for me to both appreciate the legacy that Bo and Dr. Buss have respectively left and to also feel trepidation about how things will go moving forward for L.A. given what we had to go through in the wake of Bo’s passing.



February 18th, 2013 at 5:04 PM ^

The Yankees have won 27 championships. The interwined NY  is an iconic logo  on par with the Ford  oval emblem.The Yanks are the US's Manchester United.

The Lakers are a great franchise, but the Yankees and Canadians are a notch above everyone else. Their respective histories are so rich with titles and personalities that they inhabit a different level from everyone else. 


February 18th, 2013 at 5:38 PM ^

The Canadiens certainly do not have "rich personalities" on a different level than everyone else in the NHL, assuming by "rich personalities" you mean elite players. Actually, even just going by literal personalities in team history, there are several other teams up there, and I'm not sure what value a big personality is.

They may be in the discussion for the top spot (although I wouldn't put them there), but it's nothing like a clear cut case.


February 18th, 2013 at 6:09 PM ^

But I cannot deny their dominance over time and their hold on the hockey consciousness in the GWN and NHL over time. They are and will always be the benchmark.

if your point of reference is only the 90s Patrick Roy era forward then you would miss the influence of that team from Morenz to Richard (the GOAT and in some ways inspirational figure of the quiet revolution), Plante, Beliveau to Cournoyer, Savard, Lafleur and Dryden...and literally dozens more Hall of Fame players.

The Habs legacy from the Cups to the dominance in so many decades to the 76 New Years Eve game vs. the Soviets (3-3 best game ever) to The HOF players to their political impact separates them from every other team except, perhaps, the Yankees.

I am nobody's Hab fan but I recognize greatness and their contribution to more than sport in Canada but to the national narrative.


February 18th, 2013 at 6:19 PM ^

and I their dominance as a team across different eras (like you say, until the latest period) is amazing, my quibble is the list of best players. Cancelling out differences in era, I don't think it's at all clear cut that an all-time team of Canadiens would dominate every other team's all time roster.

Again, I have a lot of respect for their place in the NHL and their role in building hockey into what it is today, but in the "biggest personality" game (still unsure what that means, but I think it means good players) you have to at least put 3/4 players in the discussion with Richard (the Rocket could definitely fall to the bottom of that list) and recognize that other teams could put out a team of six, a team of two lines, full roster, ect. that would compete with the Canadiens best.

I just don't see how you can say the Canadiens have, hands down, the best collection of alumni in the NHL. Maybe they even have the best, but it's not a different level.


February 18th, 2013 at 6:40 PM ^

The all time Habs teams would comprise three rosters...they have 60 players plus in the Hall of Fame...I've been ther and they own the place. It is not a question of one roster...they could fill almost three full teams just with their HOF players.

Do you pick HOFs Lafleur, Richard, Cornouyer, Geoffrion, Shutt or Lemaire at forward? Savard, Harvey, Langway or Robinson on defender? Roy, Plante, Dryden or Worsley in net? Their teams go on and on with HOF level depth.

I hate them but I acknowledge greatness. No other team in hockey is remotely their measure and only the most myopic of homer wouldn't give them the credit they deserve.


February 18th, 2013 at 7:01 PM ^

If your number is sixty, then sure. If your number is one, it's hard to argue that Richard was more talented than Gretzky, Howe and Lemieux. At best six, you really don't think Lindsay, Able, Howe, Lidstrom, Sawchuck and one other defensemen would give the Habs best six a great game? At two lines there are probably still a couple teams with that firepower.


February 18th, 2013 at 7:25 PM ^

I knew it would, as ever on MGB come down to the Wings argument...

My point is that Lindsay, Abel, Howe Lidstrom Sawchuk and other Wings defenseman would have to give a game to:

option a:  Lafleur/Shutt/Cornouyer/Savard/Robinson/Dryden;

option b: Richard (Rocket), Richard (Pocket Rocket), Beliveau, Ferguson, Harvey, Plante; 

option c: Lemaire, Geoffrion, Lach, LaPerriere, Lapointe, Worsley

option d: Savard, D, Olmstead, Mahovolich, Langway, Bouchard, Roy

option e: Morenz, Blake, Moore, Reardon, Laviolette, Vezina

option f: Gilmour, O'Connor, Drillon, Hall, Cleghorn, Durnan...

You could put together three or four more with just their HOF players...

At one line a team might come close to matching...at four no way, at six plus c'est impossible

As to Richard, I don't think just the talent (though he is easily in the conversation with Gretzky, Lemieux. etc..) but his cultural impact is still felt in Quebec to this day. the 'Richard Riot' in 1955 changed the cultural landscape of Quebec and Canada.




February 18th, 2013 at 7:37 PM ^

Wings until I had to go to the grocery store and was stuck with my phone, and then I had to get lazy. Lazy enough to not decide a defensive pair for #5.

Back on the computer edit: I certainly don't mean to denegrate the Canadiens, they're a great franchise with a lot of history and a lot of greatness within that history. I can tell you where I was when Rocket Richard died, and I was like twelve at the time. I think he's one of the best four or five players in history, and that's much more compliment than insult (I also agree he was the best ever when he retired, which is what really matters). I just don't think you can say they have a host of personalities on a whole other level than any other franchise in NHL history. A line with Crosby, Lemieux and Jagr would give any of those great Habs forwards all they could handle, and going 11 on 11 I don't think Montreal would blow out a majority of historically successful franchises. They might well win, and maybe they could win every game (though I doubt it, for many reasons), but I think you have to get pretty far into the record books and use less than ideal connections to the team for it to be clearly one sided in favor of the Canadiens, which was what I tried to say originally.


February 18th, 2013 at 9:07 PM ^

at this point, but i couldn't resist:  gordie howe (uncle gordie) is the greatest of all time.  a gordie howe hat trick was a goal, an assist, and a fight.  much as i love gretzky and knew him slightly when i lived in L.A., he could never have competed in the 46-78 era that gordie played in the bigs. 

and 'le rouge, le blanc, et le bleu' (red, white and blue) are a dynasty like no other.    you have to have played up there to get it.  been to yankee stadium and can appreciate the yanks and their excellence as well, but the canadiens without question deserve their place as a dynasty.

as for dr. buss, met him in the early 90's at a laker game, surrounded by hotties that were decades younger than him.   while we can all make fun of his escapades, in reality i thought it was a little sad that he was spending time with bimbos (pretty ones, no doubt) but not his peers.   seems like that would be an empty existence after a few go-rounds.   may he test in peace.


February 18th, 2013 at 9:23 PM ^

FWIW, my dad (also not a Habs fan) but lived in the era when the Habs were totally dominant and he argues, vociferously, that Doug Harvey was the best player not only on those Montreal teams (that included Beliveau, Plante, both Richards etc.) but of all time.

There's room here for debate, I suspect.

As for Jerry Buss...I thought he was cool on High Stakes Poker; I can only imagine how he was earlier in life.


February 18th, 2013 at 10:49 PM ^

I have a Dennis Sevard game stick signed on his 40th birthday. Dude is short (I'm not tall and my sticks are several inches longer [TWSS]), and also know he's a really nice guy from his time in Chicago. Did some reading on him tonight and I'm glad for the couple times I got to meet him, so this was all worth it at least for that.


February 19th, 2013 at 11:11 AM ^

Everything in Michigan is about the Wings?  News to me.

Ilitch's marketing team may call Detroit "Hockeytown," but in reality, the Wings are the #3 team in town behind the Lions and Tigers.    If the Lions ever make the Super Bowl, it will be like nothing the city has ever seen before.



February 19th, 2013 at 12:49 PM ^

As far as everything being all about the Wings, I meant specifically hockey-wise

And I have to disagree with them being Team #3. I don't think it's necessarily the Lions that are popular, but football and the NFL. I mean the team played in Pontiac for 26 years. I just don't think they have the same connection to the city that the Wings or Tigers have

Cali Wolverine

February 18th, 2013 at 7:44 PM ^

...pretty sure this post was about one of the greatest owners in modern US sports history. And other than George Steinbrenner...who influenced Buss to make the Lakers the Yankees of the NBA...there has been no better owner. (Sorry if I do not know who owned the Canadians in the '20-'70's). The Lakers had 6 championships prior to Buss' purchase of the team, Buss then went on to win 10 championships in 34 years. That is 1 championship every 3.4 years he owned the team...that is ridiculous in NBA.

RIP Dr. Buss.


February 18th, 2013 at 5:17 PM ^

Ah! Thanks for the clarification.  Hearing 'The Final Countdown' from the Bad Boys era still gives me chills even though you mostly associate that with Detroit winning at L.A's expense.

Re: the Yankees - that is a fair point, winning 1/4 of all World Series is amazing, and the Lakers are actually not the highest valued team in the NBA - however I would put their run of success in the modern era (um... whenever we all had color TV's?) up against any franchise anywhere.  As a fellow Michigan man, I'm sure you can sympathize with me making such a facile boast when we both cheer for a university that dubs Harvard the "Michigan of the West' :)



February 18th, 2013 at 5:33 PM ^

I hope his son Jim doesnt ruin everything he has done for the franchise.  He probably will tho, and it will make everyone appreciate Jerry that much more.  This could end up being very similar to situations like the Raiders and Yankees have right now..


February 18th, 2013 at 8:49 PM ^

Depends on what you mean by "doctor".

Physician? (MD, take care of you in an office/hospital;?) No.

PhD, PharmD, etc? Sure.

As a MD, I never let people know outside of work (and semi-anonymous websites) of my professional credentials to prevent drive-by-consults (look at this, what do you think about that, etc. etc. etc.)

Cali Wolverine

February 18th, 2013 at 6:00 PM ^

...Dr. Buss was a huge a HUGE college football fan and was a USC alum/fan that was frequently seen at USC home games. He loved the pangentry of college football from the cheaeaders, bands, etc. and wanted to bring this to the NBA. Based on the USC Song Girls, he created the Laker Girls...the first NBA dance squad. To this day the USC marching band plays at every Laker home game. NBA fans can also thank Dr. Buss for court side seats. Dr. Buss was an amazing owner and will be missed.