Lessons Jerry Buss Needs to Teach Jim About Running the Lakers

Well at some point in the not too distant future the NBA lockout will be ending and we’ll be able to return to the joy of watching basketball at it’s highest level. I think. Or at least I hope. And when it does Jim Buss will be one step closer to taking full control of the Los Angeles Lakers.

With his father ceding more power over to the son in the coming years Lakers fans are (rightfully) a bit nervous about what the future of the franchise might hold. As the cross town laughing stock otherwise known as the Clippers demonstrate on a daily basis, a bad owner can be the bane of a franchise’s existence. In the NBA success really does start at the top.

But my suspicion is that father has already taken son under his wing and imparted the wisdom that he has gleaned over 30 plus years of NBA ownership. In my imagination I picture Dr. Buss, a noted poker enthusiast, taking his son to a local card room, perhaps Hustler or Hollywood Park, and going through one by one the attributes Jim will need to make it in the NBA while the two of them partake in a game of high stakes no-limit hold’em.

These are the lessons that I hope have been taught.

Make Good Reads

Hand reading is one of the most important aspects of playing poker. You use logic to figure out what your opponent is holding, then based off that read you formulate a strategy which will maximize your expectation (your profit).

In the NBA I think it’s pretty analogous to many of the choices an owner is faced with. Which players to sign, what coach or GM to hire, who to draft. These are all elements that ultimately require the owner’s say so, and if things go sideways it’ll be him who takes the blame.

Over the years Dr. Buss has been a master of making good, rational decisions. Sometimes this involves trusting your employees to do their job (Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak) and sometimes it means stepping in to make an unpopular decision (trading Shaquille O’Neal). The key is that you don’t get emotional and always think about things from a cost or benefit perspective. Don’t let feelings (like attachment to a certain player) cloud your judgement.

If we’re lucky this will be the foundation of Jim Buss’s philosophy as owner of the Lakers.

Next: Push or Fold

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