But the biggest story in California this week – the biggest in the NBA, really – came Monday with the death of Lakers owner Jerry Buss. It will have a serious impact on the league’s most important brand, so it makes sense to start there.
Over the All-Star break, news broke that longtime Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss had been hospitalized and was battling cancer.
Monday, Dr. Buss passed away.
Many NBA players (former and current), owners and personnel sent their regards via Twitter.
There have been three true NBA dynasties, but only one that is attributable to an owner. Red Auerbach, a coach and general manager, gets all the credit for Boston’s dominance in the 1960s; Michael Jordan merits the same in Chicago for his pair of three-peats with the Bulls, and Jerry Buss, who died Monday at age 80, deserves major props for what he did with the Lakers.
When Wall entered the league as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010-2011 Draft, some believed he may become one of the best point guards to ever play the game. Yes, the hype was that strong.
And why not? He had incredible athleticism, size, played defense and displayed the ability to find teammates.
In his second game ever as a Wizard, he quickly showed promise with 28 points and nine assists in a losing effort against the Atlanta Hawks. In his third game, he had 29 points, 13 assists and nine steals in an overtime victory against the Philadelphia 76ers. In his sixth game as a pro, Wall added a triple-double to his fast-growing resume with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists, one turnover and six steals – joining Magic Johnson as the only rookie ever to post a triple-double with six steals in his first six games.
When the NBA lockout was announced in the summer of 2011, I was driving the streets of Dallas and checking out the three sports radio stations in the area. I listened briefly to each one to get their take on the major news of the day and then called my basketball cohort Mike Monroe in San Antonio.
“Not the lockout?” wondered Monroe.
“Well then what?”
“Two of the three are in animated discussions about the Cowboys,” I said.
The Cowboys were four weeks away – not from the regular season, but from the opening of training camp. And yet the NBA lockout was far less of a story in my hometown of Dallas.
The Cowboys are the center, the middle and the outer edges of the sporting universe here. The Mavericks and Rangers vie for a distant second. When each of those teams makes the NBA or Major League Baseball playoffs, they have to advance to the second round before their television ratings in Dallas surpass those of a Cowboys game – a Cowboys regular season game.
That football story is a way of saying I understand Lakers fans, because the Lakers are to Los Angeles what the Cowboys are to Dallas. And so I understand the zeal of Lakers fans. I understand their obsessiveness. I understand their irrationality.
And I hear about it all the time because my son, who grew up on the East Coast, lives in LA.
“These Lakers fans are unbelievable,” have been the opening words of many conversations.
Those words are often uttered in Dallas about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has made the Cowboys one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world but is criticized for being too involved in football decisions.
Sound familiar, Lakers fans?