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Lakers will remain in Buss family. But now a new legacy begins.

Feb 18, 2013, 8:32 PM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers Introduce Dwight Howard Getty Images

Lakers fans have always felt uneasy talking about the reality that hit the team today — life for the organization after Jerry Buss, who passed away Monday morning.

The Hall of Fame Lakers owner was the man with the vision and plan that made the Lakers the most successful franchise in the NBA of the last 30 years. He was brilliant at marketing but he also hired people with good basketball instincts and he understood the value of stars in the NBA. Under him, the Lakers made the NBA finals 48 percent of the years since he bought the team.

Now his children take over the organization and a new legacy begins. Every title, all the success so far goes on Jerry’s side of the Lakers ledger. It’s now tabula rasa.

If one thing should be clear from what the family said Monday is should be this — the Lakers are not being sold. It is something the family said in a statement in January, said in a statement again Monday and was reiterated by a team spokesman later on Monday at a press conference. The Buss family will continue to control the franchise.

“It was our father’s often stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family. The Lakers have been our lives as well and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy,” the family said in a statement.

Jerry Buss’ six children each have a stake in a complicated trust that gives them as a group a majority ownership of the franchise (believed to be about 65 percent, with AEG the next largest owner at about 30 percent). Jim, Jeanie and Johnny manage the trust. Each family member has some role in the organization.

Jim Buss has and will maintain ultimate control of the of the basketball side of the operations (something he has basically done for several years now working with Mitch Kupchak). However, on the basketball side Jerry was always the ultimate decider, now that falls to Jim. Jeanie Buss will continue to run the business side of the operation, as she has done for a decade. She has a fantastic reputation around the league with other owners.

Reports had surfaced that, at least before their father’s recent turn for the worse, Jim and Jeanie had not spoken since Jeanie’s fiancé Phil Jackson was interviewed but turned down to return as Lakers coach.

The question on everyone’s mind is “can Jim live up to his father’s legacy? Or will there be changes?” In the short term, probably not much changes. In the long term… that remains to be seen.

Jerry was a gambler, but a guy who always did his research then trusted his conclusions. Like the good poker player he was, when he took a risk it was calculated not impulsive. He stayed true to his vision.

Whether Jim Buss has both the vision and ability to pull that off remains to be seen. His test starts now.

If Jeanie and Jim work together, the Lakers could and should remain one of the most powerful franchises and brands the NBA has. However, there is the potential Shakespearian-level drama if there is a struggle for power.

And if that happens Lakers fans should be worried, because the fantastic success of the organization started with stability and vision from the top.

  1. yousuxxors - Feb 18, 2013 at 8:48 PM

    jeanie needs more power… she got all the brains

  2. manchestermiracle - Feb 18, 2013 at 9:00 PM

    We’ve seen the future without Jerry’s guiding hand the past two seasons. It is far from rosy. Dr. Buss’ death is the end of an era and sad for Lakers’ fans.

    • teambringitstrong - Feb 19, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      You only wish.

      • manchestermiracle - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:43 PM

        Lakers fan since 1970, doofus. The truth is what it is. Since Jerry went into the hospital the Lakers have stumbled. Now that he’s gone it should be obvious that his guiding hand is why the team dominated for as long as it did. Those days are over.

  3. BigBeachBall - Feb 18, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    eff u death… you’ll never take me alive…

  4. andrejohnsonforpresident - Feb 18, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    great article. had to re-read 48 percent several times. the finals is insane..

  5. JHathwell - Feb 18, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    Very diplomatic post by Kurt here.

    In real terms, the Lakers are screwed. Jim Buss has no acumen for this business, no idea what he is doing and nowhere near enough humility to put the team in the hnads of someone who does. Simply put, he’s a trust fund baby who is already halfway to ruining this team and will likely finish the job in the next year or two.

    Ask yourself this-next year, when the new, super-duper luxury tax kicks in, are the Lakers going to be willing to spend into it? If not, they will have to build a team around Dwight Howard for around a total of 70 million dollars (the assumed tax threshold) when kobe and Dwight are scheduled to make 50 between them.

    In the words of Michael Ray Richardson, the ship be sinkin’.

    • bougin89 - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:42 AM

      You are right, but it’s actually worse. The Lakers have (roughly) $66.5 million committed to 5 players next year. Those five players are Kobe, Pau, Nash, Steve Blake, and Jordan Hill. This is assuming they amnesty Metta otherwise that total bumps up to (roughly) $74.2 million for those 6 players. Once you add Dwight Howard’s new max contract(assuming he resigns) it turns into a real nightmare salary cap/luxury tax wise. Unless they really shake things up with a trade or two their bench could actually get worse…

  6. noring4youstill - Feb 18, 2013 at 10:20 PM

    Well it was a good run. It’s over now

  7. daddyghi - Feb 18, 2013 at 10:23 PM

    Now lakers are screwed with jimmy boy running the show now that the old man’s gone…

  8. rickyspanish - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:28 AM

    Tabula rasa? For someone who has trouble with punctuation and typos, Latin should be far away from Helin.

  9. detroitcityryda - Feb 19, 2013 at 1:29 AM

    Jim John James jack joe jahvid jakbar Jose

  10. omniusprime - Feb 19, 2013 at 9:12 AM

    Now that the late, great Dr. Jerry Buss is gone our beloved Los Angeles Lakers are screwed with that little idiot buss boy Jerky Boy Jimmy ruining the show. So sad that the smart one of the family, Jeanie, only runs the business side. She’s done a marvelous job doing that. A real shame that Jerky Boy Jimmy is too stupid to follow his father’s formula for success, great big men and power basketball, now the little idiot buss boy wants to force the Lakers to play the small ball garbage.

    I’ve been a Lakers fan since Wilt the Stilt came to the Lakers and now I’m just not feeling the love for the team I have rooted for so loyally. I have no loyalty or respect for Jerky Boy Jimmy or the moron he picked as coach, Dumbtoni. It’s no wonder that the past few years that the little idiot buss boy has been running the show the Lakers have fallen from their championship ways.

    Thank You Dr. Jerry Buss!!! Up Yours little idiot buss boy!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!!

  11. staff2cj - Feb 19, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    The demise of a once great franchise (that will be the saying a couple years down the road)

  12. teambringitstrong - Feb 19, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    So the gloom and doom crowd is out. Well, I’ve got news for you. The Lakers won 16 championships, 10 under Dr. Buss. They will ALWAYS be on top. All you haters can turn into worm food.

    • thraiderskin - Feb 19, 2013 at 2:06 PM

      wow… you’re one of those too-big to fail people, we’ll see who is worm food first.

    • manchestermiracle - Feb 21, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      You wish….

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