A great article from the always insightful, Roland Lazenby.
Laker Noise: It seems these are the days to fathom big numbers in pro basketball, with the NBA’s big guns, first the Celtics and then the Lakers, winning titles in recent years.
Beyond Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s success, there’s another set of numbers to ponder in L.A. — the stunning points that 75-year-old Lakers owner Jerry Buss has put on the board with his serial dating of 18-year-old girls… No, just kidding, and jumping ahead of the story there. Well, sort of.
This season marks the 30th anniversary of the self-made Buss acquiring the Lakers and the Great Western Forum from Jack Kent Cooke in a deal so stunning that Sports Illustrated hired accountants to investigate how Buss arranged the financing. After scratching their heads for weeks, the accountants conceded defeat. They never did figure out his fancy tricks.
Buss immediately recognized that he better listen to then-Lakers GM Bill Sharman, who advised that Cooke’s organization draft an unorthodox guard named Magic Johnson.
Magic propelled the Lakers to the league championship in the first season of ownership by Buss, who promptly told the television audience that he had worked so long and hard to win the championship. It sounded ludicrous, but Buss was talking about his years amassing the wealth and know-how to acquire the team.
He always said he bought the club just because he couldn’t get the tickets he wanted. Buss immediately understood that he should listen to Sharman, a Hall of Famer as both a player and a coach.
To this day, the low-key Sharman’s influence within the Lakers remains a key factor, despite the fact that he’s well into his 80s. Each season he writes a report on the team and its personnel that is to be read only by Buss.