[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Intermittent clouds
Intermittent clouds
77°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 18
2009 - Two killed in crash of experimental plane in Sand Canyon [video]


The Rational Center | Commentary by John Zaring
| Tuesday, Feb 19, 2013

johnzaring2012I’d like to take a break from politics this week to memorialize a legend lost.

On Monday, Dr. Jerry Buss, who bought the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979 for 30 percent less than the cost of this year’s $110 million player payroll, died at age 80 after a months-long battle with cancer.

With his passing, the Lakers, the NBA and Los Angeles lost a sports and cultural icon.

Like George Steinbrenner in Major League Baseball, Buss was a larger-than-life figure who transcended his team, its league and sports in general.  When he took over ownership of the Lakers, the NBA was in dismal shape; its finals weren’t even aired live on TV.  A courtside ticket to a Lakers game cost about $15; now it tops $2,000.

Unlike Steinbrenner, Buss stayed largely out of player personnel decisions, preferring to put his faith in his trusted basketball minds, first led by Jerry West and more recently current General Manager Mitch Kupchak.  Once a player joined the Lakers, he became part of the extended Buss family forever, and Buss’ open-door policy made the Lakers the team everyone wanted to play for, attracting one coveted free agent after another to Los Angeles – Hall of Famers like Shaq, Karl Malone, Gary Payton and Dennis Rodman among many.

Buss wasn’t afraid to pay for these players, either.  For him, winning trumped everything else, including profits – a philosophy that gave Lakers fans 10 championships in just two decades, earning Buss the highest winning percentage among owners in any of the major U.S. professional leagues.  Of course, this “championship or bust” mentality inflated the organization’s worth which, according to Forbes Magazine, is second to only Steinbrenner’s New York Yankees as the sporting world’s most valuable franchise, at $1 billion.

Photo: NBA

Photo: NBA

The freewheeling, poker-loving owner was also known for treating everyone in the Lakers organization like family – not only his players, but also everyone from the coaches to the ball boys to the front-office staff, and according to friends in the organization, that loyalty made the Lakers a great place to work, too.  They have raved about the owner’s benevolence toward those in his “family.”

While Buss left the on-court decisions to the hoops experts, he focused on the business of the Los Angeles Lakers.

From Day One of his ownership, Buss knew instinctively that for the NBA to survive and the Lakers to thrive, the Lakers needed to do more than win games; they needed to put on a show.   He understood that in a town replete with movie stars and bountiful sunshine, the Lakers would have to become an “event” in order to attract jaded L.A. sports fans. So, an event is exactly what he delivered in his re-named “Fabulous” Forum in Inglewood.

Buss invited celebrities to sit courtside to watch his on-court Maestro Magic Johnson and then entertained them with the league’s first dance team – sexy cheerleaders he called Lakers Girls – during timeouts.  Music blared during any stops in the game, and instead of having local kids sing the national anthem before the opening tip, he sent superstars like Grammy-winning R&B singer Jeffrey Osborne to center court.

With Magic leading the fast break on the floor, Buss and the Lakers blurred the line between show biz and sports, and “Showtime” was born, leading to five NBA championships.

Many other pro sports teams added dance teams and elaborate entertainment around the game, but none did it better than the originator.

In the late 1990s, the Lakers entered the era of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Pau Gasol, and in 1999, they moved to the team’s new, luxurious home in downtown Los Angeles, the Staples Center.  Soon after, thanks to the hiring of super-coach Phil Jackson, Buss was able to raise five more banners to the rafters of Staples.  The parade celebrating the team’s last championship, won in 2010, wound from Staples down Figueroa Street to the Coliseum at USC and was witnessed by an estimated 1 million people in person and millions more on television.

In my opinion, very few people have brought more pure entertainment to Los Angeles, which is why Buss was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.

Buss was arguably the most influential owner in NBA history, and Commissioner David Stern, who will retire from his position as head of the league next year and whose tenure overlapped Buss’ ownership, called him “a true visionary.”  Buss has been credited by Stern and others for helping foster the league’s expanded playoff structure, the evolution of its television coverage, and the world-wide growth in popularity of NBA basketball.

Magic Johnson told the L.A. Times: “The league was boring until Dr. Buss bought the Lakers and created the atmosphere that changed basketball forever.

“Before Dr. Buss,” Johnson said, “you just showed up and watched a game and went home. But he created a scene where you didn’t want to miss anything, the cheerleaders and the music and the show. He was a genius, way ahead of his time; the league owes him a lot.”

The Lakers are beloved largely because of the innovation that Dr. Jerry Buss brought to marketing NBA basketball, and while his influence on the league is undeniable, leading to his recent induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, his impact on Los Angeles and on Lakers fans everywhere is what he’ll always be remembered for.

The world is a better place because Jerry Buss was here. Go Lakers!

 

John Zaring describes himself as a reformed Republican turned moderate Democrat who believes democracy works best when its government actually functions because its leaders are working together. He serves on the Castaic Area Town Council’s Land Use Committee, Castaic Middle School’s Site Council, the Hart District’s WiSH Education Foundation, and he is the West Ranch High School representative on the Hart District’s Advisory Council. A self-proclaimed “New Democrat” a la Bill Clinton, he lives in Castaic with his wife of 21 years and their daughters, Fiona, 16, and Kylie, 12. His commentary publishes Tuesdays.

 

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

0 Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment


Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
RECENT COMMENTARY
Monday, Jul 2, 2018
In her July message, Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste wishes residents a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July, and recaps a bit of local history.
Sunday, Jul 1, 2018
The Mojave rattlesnake or “Mojave green” is a highly irritable and unpredictable pit viper. By comparison, the Pacific rattlesnake you might be accustomed to is fairly tame.
Friday, Jun 15, 2018
Your rights guarantee that you get the health services the law says you can get, protect you against unethical practices, and ensure the privacy of your personal and medical information. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, and to be protected from discrimination.
Friday, Jun 15, 2018
California voters just bought the feel-good tax proposition that was stated to raise yet another $4 billion for “clean water” funds. Days later, Brown declared it isn’t enough. There will be another ballot measure in November to raise another $8 billion.
Friday, Jun 8, 2018
Our state leaders are finally working together to address one of the greatest inequities in higher education – funding for California community colleges that serve high need students.
Wednesday, Jun 6, 2018
Not every decision on the table must be made within the next week. When it comes to deciding how to fund community colleges, it would be wise to hit pause and devote more careful consideration to the discussion.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
2009 - Two killed in crash of experimental plane in Sand Canyon [video]
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce is holding a Business After Hours Mixer at Valencia Acura, Wednesday, July 18, at 5:30 p.m.
July 18: SCV Chamber’s Business After Hours Mixer
Supervisor Kathryn Barger cast the lone vote opposing a motion to place a measure on the November ballot which seeks to increase property taxes on residential and commercial properties to generate approximately $300 million a year to fund additional stormwater projects.
Barger Lone Vote on Proposed Stormwater Tax
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to move forward with a comprehensive plan to increase local water supply and improve water quality.
Supes Move Forward with Efforts to Improve Local Water Supply, Quality
The county of Los Angeles and community partners are working hand-in-hand to combat homelessness, which has decreased for the first time in four years.
County Combines New, Existing Programs to Combat Homelessness
Officials at the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner have identified the body of a man who was found in a Canyon Country field Monday night.
Man Found Dead in Canyon Country
Single Mother's Outreach is currently accepting honoree nominations and artist applications through July 30.
Single Mother’s Outreach Accepting Nominees, Artist Applications
The Stay Green Inc. team has been rewarded for its excellence with eight awards — including four prestigious first-place honors — in the 59th Annual Landscape Beautification Awards presented by the San Fernando Valley Chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA).
Stay Green Earns Four First-Place Landscape Honors
Here is the list of Santa Clarita arts-related events for July 18-20:
July 18-20: Santa Clarita Arts Calendar
The city of Santa Clarita saw an increase in on-location filming in Fiscal Year 2017-2018 (July 2017 to June 2018), with the Film Office recording 560 film permits and 1377 film days, which generated an estimated $33.1 million in economic impact to the local community.
Santa Clarita Sees Increase in On-Location Filming for 5th Straight Year
Six Santa Clarita Artists Association members were accepted in the impressive La Galeria Gitana exhibit, "Around the World in 80 Paintings."
Aug. 11: Artists Association Presents, ‘Around the World in 80 Paintings’
LOS ANGELES – A former staffer for a member of the United States Congress was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for bribery and attempted extortion after demanding and accepting $5,000 to prevent the closure of a marijuana shop in the city of Compton.
Santa Clarita Man Gets 18 Months in Prison for Bribery, Attempted Extortion
1834 - Sinforosa, daughter of Narciso and Crisanta, born at Mission San Fernando; mom from Tejon, dad from Piru; believed to be last speaker of Tataviam language (died 1915) [record]
Berry Petroleum Corp., owner of the Placerita oil field west of Sierra Highway between Placerita Canyon Road and Golden Valley Road in Santa Clarita - and many other oil properties in the San Joaquin Valley - announced Monday that it has launched an initial public offering of its common stock.
Placerita Oil Field Owner Going Public Again
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting health care professionals and patients of a voluntary recall of several drug products containing the active ingredient Valsartan, used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
Blood Pressure Medicine Valsartan Recalled for Cancer-Causing Impurity
The next regular meeting of the Governing Board of the William S. Hart Union High School District is Wednesday, July 18 at the Administrative Center, 21380 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita 91350.
July 18: Hart District Governing Board Regular Meeting
The Canyon Country Advisory Committee, a division of the Santa Clarita City Council, will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, July 18, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
July 18: Canyon Country Advisory Committee Meeting
Since April, TMU grad Zach Klindworth has worked and trained with a soccer team in Iceland, 4,000 miles from Santa Clarita, the only city he'd ever known.
TMU Soccer Alum Zach Klindworth Takes Talents to Iceland
The Lancaster JetHawks scored a run in the seventh inning to take the lead and hung on to beat Lake Elsinore, 3-2, Sunday evening at The Hangar.
JetHawks Hang on for Sunday Win Over Storm
Lake Elsinore proved too much for the JetHawks Saturday night, handing Lancaster an 11-4 loss at The Hangar.
Lancaster JetHawks Overcome by Storm Saturday
The Lancaster JetHawks opened up a four-game series with a 6-2 win over the Lake Elsinore Storm in front of 4,348 at The Hangar Friday night to kick off Star Wars Weekend.
The Force With JetHawks in Friday Win Over Storm
Saxtravaganza, Santa Clarita's all-saxophone chamber ensemble, will play a free concert at Hart Hall (inside Hart Park) on Thursday, July 19, starting at 7 p.m.
July 19: Saxtravaganza Chamber Ensemble Returns to Hart Hall
Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley will participate in the semi-annual Pinewood Derby at the Newhall Clubhouse on Wednesday, July 18 starting at 4:30 p.m.
July 18: SCV Boys & Girls Club Pinewood Derby
The city of Santa Clarita's Community Preservation Division sent a notice of violation Monday to the owners of the Canyon View Mobile Home Estates property in Canyon Country, ordering the removal of multiple solar panels installed on the hillside just north of the park.
Canyon Country Mobile Home Park Cited for Hillside Solar Panels
Ingrid Moon, a sixth-grade science facilitator at tuition-free public charter school iLEAD Encino, and Kimberli Lengning, a facilitator at iLEAD Lancaster, have been named Distinguished STEM Educators by Columbia University.
iLEAD Science Facilitators Named Distinguished STEM Educators
The city of Santa Clarita has updated the list of productions shooting in the city and the Santa Clarita Valley the week of July 16-22, 2018.
‘Mayans,’ ‘Santa Clarita Diet,’ Spots, Student Films Now Shooting in SCV
The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District confirmed West Nile virus in a sample of mosquitoes collected from Panorama City (zip code 91402), the first confirmation of WNV activity in the district’s service area this year.
First West Nile Positive Mosquitoes Found – Panorama City
Air quality is very unhealthy for all residents of the Santa Clarita Valley Monday, according to an alert from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
AQMD: Air Quality Very Unhealthy Monday for SCV Residents
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies arrested a man with an outstanding warrant who was allegedly also in possession of drugs in Stevenson Ranch early Saturday morning.
Golden Valley High School grad U.S. Air Force Airman Victoria A. Arguello has graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.
Santa Clarita USAF Airman Victoria Arguello Completes Basic Training
1925 - Actor Harry Carey files patent on the original 160-acre Saugus homestead he'd purchased in 1916 (now Tesoro Del Valle) [story]
1891 - R.E. Nickel publishes area's first newspaper, The Acton Rooster [story]
Stay out of the water at Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County until further notice and avoid eating fish from the lake due to the presence of blue-green algae.
Algae in Pyramid Lake at ‘Danger’ Level – Keep Out
1769 - Portolá party sets out from San Diego; first Europeans to "discover" Santa Clarita Valley 3½ weeks later [story]
The CTG Stars teenage summer workshop production of "Shrek: The Musical, Jr." takes the stage at the Canyon Theatre Guild in Old Town Newhall for two final performances on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
July 14-15: CTG Stars Teen Workshop Stages ‘Shrek: The Musical Jr.’
The William S. Hart Museum will host an open house and summer fun event for kids on Thursday, July 19 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
July 19: Open House, Summer Fun Event for Kids at Hart Museum