In Loving Memory.
‘Rest In Peace Dr. Jerry Buss. Your Laker legacy lives on’. That was my Twitter tribute to the legendary, late owner of the Los Angeles Lakers who sadly died this week aged 80 years old. The Twitter feeds have been running with tributes for days from everyone from ex-Lakers to sportswriters and celebrities and fans alike. Still, a man who built a team for the decades ages before hash tags, top trends and social media dominated every world, (even the sports one) deserves more than 160 characters in his honor. This is for Jerry.
Today it doesn’t matter that the Lakers are fighting a losing battle. It doesn’t matter that the dream Dwight Howard trade is turning into an uncertain nightmare. It doesn’t matter that Steve Nash is getting older before our eyes. Today it doesn’t matter that Pau Gasol is on crutches, weeks away from giving this team hope. It doesn’t matter about D’Antoni, or Phil Jackson. Today it doesn’t even matter that Kobe Bryant is still on the best form of his career, no matter how great that is. Today is in remembrance. Today is for a man as legendary in Laker legacy lore as the Magic’s, Kareem’s, Shaq’s, Wilt’s, Baylor’s, Worthy’s and first namesake West’s. Today is for Jerry Buss.
We’re sure he’s up there talking in purple and gold colors with the voice of the Lakers Chick Hearn and the word of Los Angeles basketball Jim Murray. Watching down as his proud daughter and Buss family continue his vision for the future of the Lakers. A future this man built time and time again. Bringing his mustache and long hair to Hollywood and buying the Lakers off the Lakers Red Auerbach (complete with cigar) of the time Jack Kent Cooke. A man who came into Los Angeles in a Mercedes, with a playboy lifestyle perfect for this city and a hard work dedication paramount for this style and substance franchise. A man who left this town and sport as one of the greatest owners in basketball or any professional sport…ever.
A man who brought the slick Pat Riley and Showtime to the movie city, making Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the big blockbuster everyone wanted to see. A man who convinced Jack Nicholson and all the stars of stars that this game and team was something they’d want to pay a lot over and over again to see every night. A man who brought Shaq and Kobe, Phil Jackson and three more championships in when everyone thought Riley, Magic and ‘Cap where as good as it would get. A man that swung a trade for Pau Gasol when everyone thought it was over and another one for Dwight Howard when they thought it was all done and dusted. A man who even ignited the Sparks and the WNBA with Lisa Leslie and Candace Parker. When it’s all said and done, in the history of this team you could never count them out thanks to Jerry. Sure it’s players and coaches that win championships thanks to general managers, but it’s men like like Jerry who owned all the success too. That’s why he richly deserved to hoist every gold trophy he held. A man who was always there to help and guide.
A man who was more than the money that brought him the Hollywood lifestyle. He earned everything he made. Coming from poverty to perfection and showing he had more heart and soul then the straight business world basketball is turning into now. This is the same Doctor who earned his doctorate before his 24th birthday…on the side. His 10 championships was his real estate but like Earvin Johnson he was a man of may hats, maybe that inspiration of Jerry’s trick of the trade rubbed off on Magic. A poker player that donated 7.5 million to USC, an all round guy. A man who took his $67.5 mill investment into an influence and inspiration that can’t be quantified.
A man who deserves his place in the Hall Of Fame without ever wearing a jersey. A man who needs his own dedicated banner raised to the STAPLES rafters with the retired jerseys. A man who even deserves his own bronze sculpture with the rest of the immortalized Lakers statues outside the back of STAPLES. Give him a street name, nearby, a banner on Hotel Figureou even. A man who from the Forum to downtown L.A., the white and purple Mitchell and Ness trim to the new era jerseys was still here. No throwback, even now in his tragic passing all he’s done will last generations like his famous family. This man is the Los Angeles Lakers. Let’s hear it for him. This is for you Gerald Hatten Buss. Thank you. Rest peacefully.