Before the Sonics moved to OKC, there wasn't a team in the whole NBA that I despised more than the Los Angeles Lakers. They always seemed to be in contention and they always seemed to be able to land that next marquee free agent, whom ever it might have been. A lot of that is fed by jealousy and how none of the teams I grew up following never made those kinds of moves. The one man behind all of it though was Dr. Jerry Buss.
Dr. Buss passed away this morning at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, CA. He was 80 years old.
Under Buss the Lakers won 10 of the 16 championships. They won the title 1980, '82, '85, '87, '88, 2000, '01, '02, '09 and '10. The most of any team in recent memory. He's always had quite a few star players in that time as well, including, but not limited to Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, James Worthy, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabar and the legendary Smush Parker.
Kidding on that last one.
He also had two of the most legendary coaches leading those squads too in the form of Pat Riley (The Innovator of Showtime) and the great Phil Jackson.
The man was not afraid to spend money to win a championship, but he also kept strong ties to the past to help him build current incarnations of his winners. Mitch Kupchak is the current General Manager and has presided over six titles, all with Jackson as coach. Kupchak though was a former player.
Jerry West, probably one of the five greatest Lakers and one of the fifteen greatest players to ever live presided over the Lakers moving on from the Nick Van Exel-Sedale Threatt era into the Shaq-Kobe era.
Buss never cared about making money with the team. He cared about winning and winning at all costs. He did that too, he's spent more and won more than any owner since Walter A. Brown.
Dr. Buss is going to be missed dearly by the NBA. I wish I could say that his son is going to lead them to the next stage or Laker glory years, but I really have my doubts on that.
Rest in Peace, Dr. Buss. You were an innovator, a genius and knew exactly what buttons to push to bring titles. It also absolutely hurts me inside when another man dies of cancer. I'm sorry that you lost your battle. I do hope you are in a better place.