The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling through an insufferable season. The NBA’s most polarizing franchise is currently 25-29, good for 10th place in their quest to reach the Western Conference playoffs. The problem is, only eight teams qualify in the conference for postseason play. Superstars Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard have their work cut out for them if they are to help the Lakers reach the playoffs.
Making matters worse is the death of Lakers’ owner Dr. Jerry Buss from kidney failure at age 80 on Monday. Dr. Buss purchased the franchise in 1979, and was responsible for bringing championship basketball back to Los Angeles. He was responsible for bringing great players like Hall of Famers Earvin “Magic” Johnson and James Worthy, as well as future Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant to Los Angeles.
Dr. Buss brought a “Showtime” atmosphere to the Lakers by encouraging his team to employ a fast break style of basketball. I grew up rooting on the Lakers as Magic orchestrated the fast break to perfection. Dr. Buss’ Lakers won 10 NBA championships; five with Johnson, as well as five with Bryant. The Lakers ran Tinseltown, with celebrities like actors Denzel Washington, Dyan Cannon, and Jack Nicholson seated courtside. Dr. Buss was also responsible for the Laker Girls, which jumpstarted the career of future stars like Paula Abdul.
Dr. Buss’ son Jim Buss, along with general manager Mitch Kupchak, oversees the Lakers’ daily operations. Unfortunately, the current season has been fraught with coaching changes, injuries, and inconsistency for the Lakers. The passing of Dr. Buss should serve as the impetus for the Lakers to go on an amazing winning streak, and charge right into the playoffs.
That’s not going to happen. Teams like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder are younger, healthier, and faster than the Lakers. To make matters worse, the Lakers aren’t even the best team in their own building. That distinction currently belongs to the Los Angeles Clippers. I never thought I’d write the preceding sentence in a billion years. Although the Lakers will fail in their quest to win another NBA championship this season, the legacy of Dr. Buss will live forever in NBA history.