Jerry Buss may have died on Feb. 18 at age 80, but Jerry Buss lives.
When watching the
"He was nothing less than a transformational force in the history of sports," said NBA Commissioner
Forever and ever, amen.
When you are cheering the Laker Girls, you are cheering Jerry Buss. He invented them, he promoted them, he inspired not only their skimpy clothes and gyrating dances but also their community outreach and public service. He made them the centerpiece of his newfangled idea to turn sports into entertainment. And, OK, to be honest, he probably dated a few of them.
When you are walking inside
When you feel the inspiration of
When you hear the recorded tones of
When you gawk at
Finally, when you are frustrated at the discord between the two main heirs to Buss' Lakers throne — daughter Jeanie and and son Jim Buss — you are actually embracing the very essence of Jerry Buss. He may have been a playboy, but he was also a loving father, which could both help and hurt the Lakers in the future. He empowered Jeanie to become one of this country's top female sports executives by putting her in charge of the Lakers' business operations. He has attempted to do the same thing with Jim by putting him in charge of basketball. What worked so well for Jeanie hasn't worked so well for Jim, and Lakers fans can only hope that in the inevitable power struggle, Jeanie wins and controls her father's empire.
Make no mistake, Jerry Buss left an empire. It is one built on equal parts competitiveness and entertainment. It is one that cares equally about victories and fans. It is one that has affected other sports empires throughout the country, including the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. But mostly, it is an empire that changed a city, the Lakers connecting with their fans like perhaps no other team in any other community.
When you hear the words to the Lakers' victory song, you will forever feel the message of Jerry Buss. He loved L.A. He loved it.