Most people wouldn’t define themselves as a person of faith. One of the reasons for that is because faith has always been one of those taboo topics nobody is allowed to talk about.

Of course, there are always exceptions.

If something terrible has happened in our Country (e.g. 9/11, Katrina), faith is suddenly an acceptable social ritual, and one that perplexingly becomes a general sentiment shared by the majority of Americans.

This makes about as much sense as anything Doc Rivers has said this decade.

Our world can unreasonably downplay the exercise of faith in our individual lives, but the simple truth is this: It doesn’t matter if you believe in God, no-God, Jesus, Allah, Buddha or Lady Gaga’s egg reincarnation (easily one of the five dumbest things to happen in pop-culture history) – faith is an indispensable and unavoidable part of life.

Which also means it’s an indispensable and unavoidable part of sports.

It’s my job – and one of my hobbies – to keep up with the highly emotional opinions circulating Laker Nation. I have found that you can place just about every single Laker fan into one of two faith camps:

Camp A: The Lakers will somehow win.
Camp B: The Lakers will somehow lose.

When pushed, just about everyone is either an optimist or a pessimist – it’s near impossible to live your life in the middle. Whichever camp you occupy determines your perspective on everything that happens during the NBA season, or in this case, the off-season.

I have lived the majority of my life in Camp A, but maybe not for the most commonly alluded to reasons.

It has nothing to do with Kobe Bryant or Phil Jackson.
It has nothing to do with tradition or the historical significance of the franchise.
It had everything to do with Jerry Buss.

Jim Buss (Photo: Getty Images)

Since 1980, the year Dr. Buss took the reins, the Lakers have won ten NBA championships. He brought us the Showtime Era and the Bling Dynasty. He masterfully calmed Kobe’s trade demands back in ’07, shrewdly swiped Pau Gasol and coolly added a couple more Larry O’Brien trophies to the case. In 32 seasons as owner of the Lakers, Dr. Buss has .500 record… in getting to the NBA Finals (16 of his 32 years).

Magic in ’79? That was Jerry’s idea. Jack Nicholson sitting courtside? Also his idea. Lakers girls? Yep, Dr. Buss’s brainchild. He was the creative mind behind the lucrative marriage between the Lakers and Hollywood. There are thousands of aspiring actresses waitresses with fake boobs and tanning memberships that can thank Jerry for their fifteen minutes.

No matter the situation, or how dire things seemed for the Lakers, I always walked to Camp A, said In Buss We Trust and never even considered crossing the street to Camp B.

Until this week, that is, when it became undeniably evident that Jim Buss will be calling the shots from here until October 21st, when the world ends. It all reminds me of something I read some time ago by author and ESPN writer Roland Lazenby, who has close ties to the Laker organization:

“I don’t know Jim Buss, but I do know that he should study hard how to be a good owner. He is not a personnel guy, and he should not sit anywhere close to the GM’s office. If I could do one thing to fix the Lakers? I would send Jim Buss off to owner school with his dad.”

Two words come to mind: Billy Madison.

We all remember what happened in ’04, when Jim hired a defensive minded coach – Rudy Tomjanovich – to replace Phil Jackson after a derisory and awkward loss to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

That went well.

Fast forward to ’11, replace Rudy T with Mike Brown and Detroit Pistons with Dallas Mavericks, and it sure looks like the inside of a Delorian to me.

Jim is a guy who never seemed to be on board with Phil Jackson, going as far as publicly criticizing him before his older (and more competent) sister Jeannie stepped in and restored order behind the scenes.

Former player, assistant coach and current head coach of the T-Wolves, Kurt Rambis, once accused Buss of puffing up his chest a little bit and trying to take charge and make his voice heard and make his voice known.

Most recently, during his second attempt at ridding the franchise of any Phil Jackson leftovers, he canned assistant GM Ronnie Lester (the only other guy who can take any credit for scouting Bynum) along with dozens of scouts, training staff members and video team personnel.

But hey, he has made one solid personnel decision that makes sense: He added his personal bartender to the Lakers payroll.

The supreme logic of Jim Buss has Bynum as untouchable, Mike Brown as the heir apparent and Kobe Bryant, the cornerstone of the Lakers franchise, not worthy of even a phone call to let him know the Lakers had hired a new coach.

If you’ve never thought of yourself as a person of faith, well…

You may want to re-think that.

In the Billy Madison era of Lakers’ basketball, blind faith is really all we have.


Jason Riley is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter.

  • Anonymous

    “older (and more competent) sister Jeannie stepped in” – she also happened to be sleeping with PJax at the time. 

    • ilikebasketball

      youre a douche.

  • Guest

    Unfortunately, it’s something that we must live with, and we can take solace in the fact that our favorite team isn’t owned by Donald Sterling. Hopefully he’ll grow up and realized what makes him a good owner is not because he has a good basketball mind, but because his pockets are deep. And hopefully, Jerry will look over his shoulder as he transitions into becoming the Lakers’ next owner.

    • Lakerfan1962

      Actually JIm Buss = Donald Sterling
      Jeanie is much more intelligent then her sibling

      • rondo

        Why don’t you apply for a job with the Lakers Mr know it all.

  • Iamlights

    we as fans hold the power to get rid of jim buss, boycott games, and purchasing of all laker memorabilia, ticket sales go down, revenue goes down, jerry buss would have no choice but to replace jim! lets do this

    • st0rmchaser

      Theoretically, you’re right. But in practice, I don’t see it happening.

      Frank McCourt ruined the Dodgers, and now Jimmy ruins the Lakers. Ugh.

      • rondo

        How did he ruin the lakers? You guys are showing your true color!

    • rondo

      Bullshit! Get rid of him because of what.  go root for another team.

  • bob

    Great article, very well written… kudos

  • Wayneshardwood

    As Mayor of camp A, all I can say is maybe there’s more to Mike Brown than you or I realize. At least that’s what I pray for now!

    • ilikebasketball

      that’s what the article is about. having faith that things will go well.

  • ukuga

    Terrible intro to the article.  Very ignorant.  

  • ukuga

    BTW, who is this chest-puffing “Billy” you to whom you refer?

    • Jason Riley

      Meant ‘Billy’, as in ‘Billy Madison’… which wasn’t funny and mistakenly wasn’t edited out. It is now. :)

  • Lakerfan

    I think you are being a little over dramatic here. The Lakers are in good hands. Mitch Kupchak is still the GM. Mike Brown is a good solid coach. Lakers still have a very potent and talented roster.

    • Yellow and Purple 4 Eva

      Wake up Dreamer~  it’s a roster of discontents and aging queens.

  • myself

    I don’t understand why Jeannie wasn’t in line to run the Lakers!!!! She loves this team, all Laker fans love her, and she has been way more involved with the organization than Jim. SMDH!!!! I hope this isn’t the Clippers 2.0. with Jim running this team.

    • ilikebasketball

      great point!!! GREAT POINT!

    • rondo

      If you had a son & a daugther who would you let run your business?

  • ilikebasketball

    i agree with it all.
    except bynum. i love love love bynum.
    i think he def could be the future. just needs to bulk up.


    and get rid of ron artest.

  • ilikebasketball

    i have to say i hate this comment system. i dont have facebook or twitter. and i dont want my email account name coming up here.
    but if i do guest, i have to retype my email and name every single fucking time.

    is there a way around this?

  • laffsatu

    way to assist in lebrons championship runs,as it is EVERYONE is calling Lebron the best ever, Kobe not even mentioned

    • abbott

      Kobe is not mentioned because he is much way better than lebron..

    • ilikebasketball

      can’t wait til Dirk shows up lebron. He is playing on a mission. “legendary” performances

  • Bennie_08

    Lakers need to sign Aaron Brooks. Hes the only legit point guard out there this off-season, and he costs way less than CP3. Hope Aaron Brooks makes it to La-La Land

    • ilikebasketball

      great idea.

  • Sharkyy9

    isn’t 16 out of 32 exactly .500 and not “greater than .500?”

  • Junk4myemailacct

    Jim Buss is NO GOOD, Just watch the Lakers will decline because of this owners son. I have not heard any good comments about this guy. Why, because he is not good at his job, just because his daddy has CASHOLA doesn’t mean anything !! If we don’t get back to Laker ball it is because of Jim Buss !!!

  • Gugy

    I don’t care much for Jim Buss but I still have faith on the Lakers.
    Jerry is allowing Jim to make some decisions but he still looking over his shoulders.
    That said my faith is growing a bit with Mike Brown, truth to be told there is nobody out there that can replace Phil, so let’s give Mike a chance, he has a better resume than Brian Shaw. Who knows he could end up being a good thing.
    I do agree not talking to Kobe about the new hire was a slap on the face to a guy who gave it all for the Lakers.
    With all said, I am still on camp A.

  • Jayr_dayao

    Hay jim Buss is nuts when he said that Bynum is untouchable… You will choose an injury prone player over an athletic and is the top defensive big man today that can give you all-out hustle and energy…

    Wake up Jim we need an athletic defensive anchor

    Phew I hope that knee will never collapse again…

  • st0rmchaser

    Q: What do Homer Simpson, Barney Fife, and the Three Stooges have in common?
    A: They’d do a better job at running the Lakers than Jim Buss ever will.

    Dr. Buss: Please demote your son to ball boy and retake the reins before the Purple and Gold head into a decade of mediocrity.

  • Mhshoops99

    Jim Buss is either a a bone head momma’s boy or a genius. So far he has made the right move by saying Bynum is untouchable. Bynum is the best Center in the league behind Howard when healthy. So taking him off the table so Orlando cant use him as a bargaining piece was a goodthing. Secondly know that Lakers history is built all-star centers we have traded for should be a eye opener. Third being that he has did a great job with Bynum despite his physical setbacks resulting in Bynum having a ton of value. Now its time to cash in if Dwight seriously understand Orlando is done, wants a championship and to get his name in the history books. This summer is the first step into writing his own legacy as every son of a owner wants. Mike Brown, Dwight for Bynum and a surprise trade with the Hornets will bring showtime back to the lakers along with rings. Lets see what he’s made of!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Chadious

      I’m going with Bone Head Momma’s Boy.

  • rondo

    Jim Buss I am with you keep Andrew Bynum, don’t get egg in your face by trading Bynum before seeing what Bynum can do with a real point guard.

  • klani

    He really added his personal bartender to the payroll at the same time getting rid of valuable training personnel?  That can’t be true.

  • MyJohnsonIsMagic

    How dare you compare Billy Madison to Jim Buss.

    Billy Madison’s problem was alcohol what is Jim Buss’ problem, Crack?

  • Chadious

    Great article and perspective. 

    First – I completely agree with some of the fan posts.  Jim Buss is a complete idiot.  That being said, I seriously doubt Dr. Buss will ever step back in to regain control.  We just have to hope Jim Buss “learns” quickly.

    Secondly – I cannot stand Bynum.  I really hate when people suggest he’s such a great player… “when healthy”.  THAT’S THE POINT, PEOPLE… he’s never healthy!  We overspent on resigning him and he only averages half the season in terms of playing time.  How does that make any sense?  I get it… he’s big.  He can play defense.  He has relatively soft hands… but that’s it.  We should be actively pursuing a serious upgrade and hopefully begins with the word Dwight and ends with the word Howard.

    Thirdly – Mike Brown?  Really?  When the Lakers begin the search with “we need to find a coach making half as much as Phil…” that’s clearly the wrong road to travel down.  The Lakers should find the best coach for the organization, regardless of the cost.  Negotiate that later.. just find the best coach.  When you say you’re looking for a budget coach, it tells your players and fans you’re not “really” committed to winning.  Didn’t the Lakers just sign a $3 BILLION dollar cable contract and their budgeting on the coaching salary?!  In my opinion, they should’ve called Sloan first.  Granted he would have a totally different style than that of Phil, but damn it that guy can coach!  Next, Adelman, who I think is a genius on the offensive end.  But Mike Brown?  I just hope he and Kobe get along… I can see that playing out with a trade demand.

    Lastly, as this team ages and sees the twilight years for Kobe, we need to either acquire new, young talent to groom into the players who will take over when Kobe retires.  We keep trading away all our picks.  Fortunately, this year has a weak draft, but come on!  Let’s go after some talent, Buss!  Get Howard.  Try and acquire a “long shot” like CP3 or a more attainable Aaron Brooks. 

    I really hope Mitch reads posts like this and GROWS A PAIR!  Stop being a puppet and make some decisions!!!

  • Rrteamone

    I really thought they meant Larry Brown when I saw the heading…WTF!!! Whomever made this choice is just a Fu*kn idiot…It’s official now….The Lakers are done!Kobe should head out to NY next to finish his career and the Lakers will never win a championship again! at least the tickets will be cheaper since there won’t be any demand!!…LOL!!! Too bad Jerry Buss turned it over to the Kiddies What are the odds on Jim’s boy Bynum getting injured next year?….if there is a next year that is…LOL!!Yes Jim Buss…WE DON”T CARE FOR YOU AT ALL!

  • xtro

    dark days ahead.

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