Column: The Buss keeps riding
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, April 16, 2013 09:04
It takes a lot to build up hatred toward anything in life. In reference to the sporting world, that build up usually has a lot to do with wins.
Winning is what separates the first-mentioned from the after thoughts, the champions from the also-rans and the perennial Los Angeles Lakers from the Milwaukee Bucks.
I do not hate the Milwaukee Bucks, but you can bet your money on the fact that I hate the Los Angeles Lakers. And for that, I can largely thank longtime Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who died Monday after a long battle with cancer at age 80.
Under Jerry Buss, the Lakers were world champions on ten separate occasions. He oversaw two of basketball’s greatest dynasties with “Showtime” in the 1980s, and with whatever you want to call Shaq and Kobe’s dysfunctional years together in which they managed to three-peat as NBA champs amid crying about each other to the press.
As a lifelong New York Knicks fan, I have easily had my fill of suffering and drama. From Stephon Marbury’s reign as the leader of the team to the now infamous “Honey Nut Cheerios” incident, cheering for the Knicks hasn’t always been the easiest.
Compare that to the life of a Lakers fan since Buss’s began in 1979, and you have about ten times the drama, but also a dominant multitude of New York’s success as well.
Buss spoiled his fan base, solidified his area as a basketball hotspot and inspired hate from pretty much every other jealous basketball fan in the country.
What Buss did for the Los Angeles Lakers is nothing short of amazing, and man do I wish I hated him for it. Because when someone else is winning when your team stinks, somebody needs to be taking some hit. In the past it’s been Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and coaching legend Phil Jackson taking all of the flack.
The fact that I still have people to hate on the Lakers in Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant and bleacher-climbing legend Metta World Peace is a testament to none other than Buss, a man who made his team so good that they can be hated even in one of their most disappointing seasons to date.
At the time he acquired the team, the Lakers had only won one championship since their move from Minneapolis, an embarrassment for a team that would soon solidify itself as a league staple in Los Angeles.
Then came the big moves, the Steinbrenner-esque deals and the monster contracts (Buss once offered Magic Johnson a $25 million, 25-year contract shortly after he became a star) that not only made the team matter, but put the Lakers in the same conversation as some of the most important franchises in all of sports.
From the standpoint of a disgruntled Knicks fan, I hate everything the Jerry Buss has done for the Los Angeles Lakers. For everything from the championship rings to the dynastic runs, the Lakers may easily be one of the most hated teams in all of professional sports.
But subsequently, they still remain one of the most powerful, successful and well-respected franchises as well.
And for that, the genius that was Jerry Buss deserves all of the credit
You can follow Mike Corasaniti on Twitter @mikecorasaniti.