|RIP Dr. Buss|
I was once told that it’s the hard times that let’s us see the true nature of people. Sometimes, we need things to go as far south as possible before we can pull ourselves out of the ashes and for the 2012-13 Los Angeles Lakers, things just went really far south. Like Antarctic south. Legendary team owner, Jerry Buss, passed away on Monday adding another black cloud on an already abysmal Laker season.
It comes as no real surprise that the Lakers have been a total dumpster fire since Dr. Buss passed the day-to-day operations of the team over to his son, Jim Buss. (A guy that’s about as accomplished professionally as I am. No really, look him up.) It’s long been rumored that even the people close to the Lakers organization were worried what would happen to the team once Dr. Buss passed away because no one had any real confidence in Jim Buss. This season has all of their worst nightmares coming to life.
Jimmy has some big shoes to fill as Dr. Buss was, arguably, the greatest owner in the history of sports. The level of excellence that the Lakers enjoyed under Dr. Buss will likely never be matched, by his son or anyone for that matter. Since buying the team in 1979, the Lakers have won ten NBA championships, sixteen Western Conference titles, and eighteen division crowns. Hell, under Buss’leadership they only missed the playoffs twice! (People REALLY want to talk about the Clippers taking over LA?! Excuse me while I literally laugh my ass off.)
|Kobe Bryant delivers an emotional speech before Lakers vs. Celtics|
Originally, I wanted to wait until the Laker’s played their first home game after Dr. Buss’ passing to gather my thoughts on them. My first instinct; see the team’s energy and fight after such a huge psychological blow and then judge them. I’ve come to realize that wasn’t such a good idea. With all the emotion in the Staples Center on Wednesday, the 97-98 Chicago Bulls (Greatest Team Ever, 72-10.) with five Michael Jordans couldn't beat the Lakers. No one was beating the Lakers on that night. How they perform from here-on-out is really going to tell us a lot about the Lakers. I say things are going to go one of the following ways for LA. One) The Lakers rally, they make the playoffs and make some real noise. Two A) The Lakers continue to play the same lackluster basketball, make the playoffs and get rolled in the first round to OKC or San Antonio. Two B), they play the same and miss the playoffs. Three) The Lakers totally implode and get even worse. In my opinion, all of those scenarios are completely and equally "up-in-the-air" and nothing else. Come season’s end, we’ll see which plays out.
|Dr. Buss' blend of hands-on ownership when needed and |
hands-off when it wasn't, helped the Lakers to ten titles.
You see, what this whole thing really boils down to is one of the absolute truths I‘ve learned when it comes to sports. For example, if you're missing a franchise QB, you’re royally screwed. (Cut to Browns, Chiefs and Cardinals fans banging their heads into the computer.) If your favorite team has a bad owner they're much worse off. Just think about all the different ways a bad owner affects your team. Coaches don’t want to work with your team and agents will steer the best free agents away from your team if the ownership sucks. A prized franchise player will almost certainly jump ship and high draft picks will always suffer under bad management. When an owner is cheap, they only look at your favorite team as their personal ATM. They don’t spend money on coaches, they try to low ball or underpay their own stars and they cheap out on little things like staff members or team facilities. These cheap, money hungry bastards would charge you for breathing air in the arena, if they could get away with it.
That being said, the ignorant/hands-on owner is a whole other ball of wax. Sure, they'll spend money on the team and their hearts are in the right place, but they can never seem to get out of their own way. This type of owner thinks he/she knows more than the people they’ve hired and even worse, sometimes he/she puts themselves in positions they have NO business being in. This forces/allows them to make stupid decisions based solely on their “I CAN DO THIS MY WAY” ego. (Cut to Cowboy fans banging their heads into the computer.) That’s why Jim Buss hired the wrong coach. It was all Jim desperately wanting to prove that he can do this his way and that he didn't/doesn't need Phil Jackson.
All my life I’ve been a Laker fan and that's not changing. I’ve only known the Lakers one way and that's Jerry Buss’ way. The way that proved you could blend entertainment basketball without sacrificing championship caliber basketball. He always strived to make the Lakers not only the best team in the NBA, but the best “show” in the NBA. I'm also a longtime/long suffering Detroit Lions and Chicago Cubs fan so the Lakers have always been the only source of joy for sports in much of my life. Even during the "down" years, my dad always told me this, “Don’t worry son, Jerry will figure it out and make it work.” For 20 years my father was never wrong about that. Dr. Buss always figured it out. Funny thing is, my dad hasn’t told me that one time about Jimmy Buss. Rest well Dr. Buss. You’ll be missed.
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