Lessons Jerry Buss Needs to Teach Jim About Running the Lakers

Know When to Release a Bad Hand

Even good poker players make poor choices. Or, more frequently, they’re just faced with a set of circumstances that makes a hand unplayable. At this point smart players know there is only one option at their disposal. Fold.

Think back to when the Lakers decided to part with Shaq. Getting back Lamar Odom and change didn’t seem like fair compensation, did it? The following season was a relative disaster as the Lakers missed the playoffs for the first time in 11 years and Kobe Bryant was fuming.

Yet in the long run this was the smart play. Dr. Buss knew that holding on to O’Neal’s contract (and bulging waistline) for a few more years probably wouldn’t have gotten the Lakers another championship, but it would have hamstrung their flexibility for improving in the future. In essence, he folded early because he wanted to have chips left over to make a big move later on.

Sometimes the best play, whether in poker or the NBA, is to let a hand go and start planning for the next one. Let’s hope it’s a lesson Jim takes to heart.

Have the Guts to Move All-in

At some point in every game of no limit Texas Hold’em you will end up being put to a decision for all your chips. Being able to determine when the right moment to go all in is essential to success. Throughout the time that Jerry Buss has owned the Lakers he has demonstrated that he’s not afraid to put his money where his mouth is when it comes time to make a major decision.

This is the same owner who gave Magic Johnson a record 20-year contract, who courted and signed Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson. Who then ditched Shaq and cast his lot with Kobe Bryant. All of these decisions panned out brilliantly, but the question is will his son’s big moves be just as successful?

For some Lakers fans this might be the most concerning aspect of trying to figure out whether Jim will be as good an owner as his father. The player that he seems most enamored in going all in with is Andrew Bynum, a center with loads of potential who has displayed flashes of brilliance, but can’t seem to stay healthy long enough to put together an entire season.

Picturing Bynum as the anchor of great Lakers teams of the future makes some fans queasy, not because he doesn’t have the skills, but because some wonder if he’ll even make it through next year without a major injury.

But when it comes down to it Jim will have to trust himself. Trust his reads, his judgement and his logic. Hopefully his instincts are as good as his father’s. Of course only time will tell because just as in poker, success in the NBA will ultimately be judged in the long run.

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