Los Angeles Lakers owner Jeanie Buss has seen a lot throughout her time with the franchise. Through the ups and downs and with all of the superstars who have played for the team, there is very little that she hasn’t experienced.
Needless to say, she has a good idea of how to build a successful franchise. When it comes to winning, two things are of the utmost importance: talent and culture. A team simply can’t win without having the necessary talent on the floor and on the bench.
Likewise, if the culture surrounding the team is toxic, it could ruin everything regardless of how much talent a roster possesses.
Buss was recently asked about the importance of talent versus culture in her appearance on the “Daddy Issues” podcast with Joe Buck and Oliver Hudson. Buss noted that you must have talent but also credited Magic Johnson coming in as helping to reset the culture of the franchise:
“You have to have talent. … Using that word, the culture, it didn’t have clarity for me until Magic came. Everybody knew the hammer is coming down, we’re serious, we’re going to get back to winning. Not only from the basketball side but every aspect of the organization. Everybody sat up a little bit straighter. It’s like we’re here to do something now, this is what we’re committed to.
“He set us off on that path and now I really see how the culture has come around in terms of bringing somebody like LeBron, and the players want to come and play with somebody like LeBron, and the coaching staff we have, what they’re all about. So yes, I think we managed to change our culture. It took time to implement but now people know who we are, they know the kind of basketball team we want to be, the kind of players we’re going to bring in. Now it all feeds on itself. We’ve got the pieces and they can grow bigger.”
Talent and culture go hand-in-hand in the creation of a good franchise. A popular example of this would be the San Antonio Spurs who remained championship contenders for nearly two decades due both to the outstanding talent they acquired, as well as the consistency and professionalism of the franchise which created a great environment for the players.
Both of the factors Buss outlined have been present as the Lakers are two wins from reaching the NBA Finals. Several players have raved about the bond they share, and that has proven to be particularly valuable with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presenting a unique challenge.
Part of the Lakers coming together in the bubble has been a commitment by all members of the organization contributing by any means necessary. Vice president of basketball operations Rob Pelinka emphasized a flex staffing mindset, and he’s further backed that up by rebounding for players during practices.
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