The best franchises always have great leadership from the ownership position. Whether they are out front for the public to see, or behind the scenes making all of the necessary moves and spending the money needed for success, it is impossible for a franchise to succeed without a great owner.
When Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team in 1979, the Lakers had their owner for the next three decades and Buss would back his team on the way to 10 NBA Championships before his untimely passing earlier this year.
Buss was one of the first people who understood that the entertainment factor was just as important as winning on the floor. Buss wanted to win, but always wanted his team to put on a show and he accomplished that through shrewd draft picks and trades.
He was also smart enough to surround himself with intelligent people and take their advice when it came to making big decisions. Guys like Jerry West and Mitch Kupchak earned the trust of Dr. Buss, and when they needed him to spend a little more to get the right players, he had no problem doing so.
Drafting guys like Magic Johnson, James Worthy, A.C. Green, and Derek Fisher; making trades for Kobe Bryant, Bob McAdoo, and Pau Gasol; signing guys like Shaquille O’Neal. These are all moves made under the watch of Dr. Buss who loved his team, and his players, and was fiercely loyal to them.
When Magic Johnson retired, Buss made sure that Johnson would always be a part of the Laker family. Kobe Bryant has talked about how Dr. Buss convinced him to stay with the Lakers when he considered leaving the team, and Jim and Jeannie Buss insisted that this Bryant contract extension, which has been criticized by many, was something that Dr. Buss would have done.
There is no doubt that Dr. Buss is one of, if not, the most important figure in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers, and his purchase of the team in 1979 set this team on the path to greatness that we now expect.
On this Throwback Thursday, we remember Dr. Jerry Buss and his purchase of the Lakers in 1979.
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