AFTER purchasing the Los Angeles Lakers in 1979, Dr. Jerry Buss left a legacy that continues to this day.
Under the Buss family ownership, the franchise won 10 championships with Jerry at the helm and one with his daughter Jeanie Buss.
A new 10-part documentary about the family, titled Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers, details the family’s rich history and how Jerry came to own the team.
“Everyone we’ve asked to participate has agreed to be interviewed and they’re all giving their experiences because the fans know what happened on the pitch,” Jeanie told The Athletic.
“But they don’t know what happened behind the scenes and that’s what we wanted to show, what happens after the game and the impact of winning on people and on a family.”
RISE TO THE TOP
Before owning one of the NBA’s most legendary teams, Jerry Buss grew up in Wyoming in the post-Great Depression years.
At a young age, Jerry stood on bread lines to get food for himself and his single mother.
He also scoured his hometown for old phone books and other paper products to stuff in his fireplace to heat his home.
Decades later, at the age of 34, Jerry made his first million.
At the age of 46, Jerry and his business partner, Frank Mariani, turned that million into a multi-state real estate empire valued at an estimated $350 million.
It was that year that Jerry pulled off the most complicated and lucrative transaction in sports history – buying the Lakers.
Jerry was able to buy the team with the help of a legal team of 50 lawyers and accountants.
He also landed the Kings ice hockey team, the Inglewood Forum and the 13,000-acre Raljon Ranch in the Sierra Nevada mountains from businessman Jack Kent Cooke.
In total, Jerry spent over $135 million on the entire deal.
In return, Cooke received a lease on the Chrysler Building in New York City, as well as land in Virginia, Massachusetts and Maryland.
“Jerry was confident that it would happen,” Jerry’s longtime friend and spokesman Bob Steiner told The Sun Sentinel. “But there was a real excitement.”
Jerry played a key role as the owner of the Lakers, making basketball more than just a sport, it was a spectacle.
He focused on the team’s marketing, hiring the Laker Girls and having movie stars perform in crowds during games.
“He was a very intuitive guy,” Steiner said. “He really wanted to own the team.”
Jerry wanted to make attending a Lakers game an experience that simply couldn’t be replicated by watching it on TV.
“We wanted to change that and one way was to provide entertainment throughout the game,” he said.
During his induction into the NBA Hall of Fame in 2010, Magic Johnson called Jerry a “master at building a team.”
“He made the Lakers the top brands in the sport with the New York Yankees.
“He was able to do it because he’s one of the smartest business people you’ll ever meet. He was never about putting money in his pocket. It was always about bringing it back into the team.”
With 10 NBA championships under his belt, Jerry was the most decorated owner in sports history.
On February 14, 2013, it was revealed that Jerry had been battling cancer since the year before and would die four days later at the age of 80.
Then NBA Commissioner David Stern called Jerry a “visionary owner whose impact on our league is invaluable and will be felt for decades to come.”
Jerry’s 66 percent ownership of the team passed through a trust to each of his six children, an 11 percent per child.
His daughter Jeanie took over the Lakers in March 2017.
She became the Lakers’ governor in 2014 after the death of her father and is now the team’s representative on the NBA Board of Governors.
Despite some setbacks in the years since she took office, Jeanie is still the undisputed leader of the franchise with just one NBA championship win in 2020.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6130411/jerry-buss-jeanie-lakers-family-legacy-nba/ In the wild tale of the Lakers family legacy after Dr. Jerry Buss swapped the Chrysler building for the team