While Dr. Jerry Buss is officially known as the Los Angeles Lakers’ majority owner, he has given his son, Jim Buss, many of the responsibilities that he used to have.
Since possessing many of the hefty responsibilities that come with being an owner, Jim Buss has made some good moves.
Not only was he the one who vouched for Andrew Bynum during the 2005 NBA draft, but he also got rid of struggling Lamar Odom’s expensive contract.
However, Buss has committed actions detrimental to the team, including his lack of communication with players and coaches.
It seems that fans and analysts focus on the negative aspects of Buss—quite frankly, they are unhappy with having him as an owner.
Instead, Lakers’ fans would like someone a little closer to their hearts, someone they know they can immediately trust, someone like Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
While it seems highly unlikely that Johnson would ever be able to own the Lakers, there are many reasons why he could be a better owner than Jim Buss.
Here are nine of those reasons.
Jim Buss is infamous for his lack of communication.
Not only did he refuse to inform former Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw regarding the hiring of Mike Brown, but he also neglected to inform the face of the Lakers, Kobe Bryant.
…I think what Kobe really probably wants is just be informed. As a leader, as a future Hall of Famer, as a guy who has brought five championships to the Lakers and the fans of Los Angeles, he just wants to probably have more communication, probably like he did when Phil Jackson was there and he worked well with Mitch. I don't think that Kobe feels he's got that type of relationship or the communication has been there with Jim.”
Lack of communication is unacceptable as an owner because it demonstrates an indifference to those involved in a franchise.
Clearly, Johnson understands this.
Johnson himself enjoyed a great relationship with Jerry Buss during his playing days and, as the Lakers’ owner, it seems he would want to replicate this with his own players.
Johnson would be willing to sit down with players and coaches to discuss important matters.
This way, players and coaches will want to carry out their tasks to the best of their abilities because a cloud of uncertainty won’t follow them.
Magic Johnson spent 13 seasons in the NBA, and he spent a majority of his time with other players.
Clearly, he understands what it’s like to be in the NBA—he comprehends the difficulties and injuries each player undergoes as well as the sentiments they experience.
As a result, as Lakers’ owner, Johnson would be able to relate to his players in a way that Jim Buss cannot.
This relatability could cause players to want to play with him and communicate with him, which relates to my first point.
As a player, Magic Johnson went to the playoffs 13 times and he won five NBA titles.
While Jim Buss has been a part of a couple of Lakers championship teams, Johnson has a slight advantage over him in the fact that he has been a part of multiple contending teams as a player.
As the Lakers’ owner, he can utilize this wisdom and add his input into the construction of his team.
After his playing days ended, Magic Johnson became one of the most successful businessmen in the United States.
In fact, Johnson’s net worth is estimated to be $500 million.
While the general manager is responsible for assembling the team, the owner’s primary responsibility involves business.
With his business expertise, Johnson can thrive in this field.
By organizing the arena in an efficient and appealing way, Johnson will be able to attract even more people the Staples Center, increasing the wealth of the Lakers’ franchise.
Furthermore, Johnson’s success in business didn’t come without creating strong relationships.
Johnson can use these abilities to keep sponsors and season-ticket holders happy so they can continue investing in the Lakers franchise.
The Los Angeles Lakers are getting old, and they only have a couple years left until it’s time to rebuild.
Although the Lakers are one of the most popular NBA franchises in the world, they will certainly lose some appeal during the rebuilding stage.
However, with Magic Johnson as owner, the Lakers could still have a face to energize the franchise—someone that can draw people to the Staples Center and their TV screens.
Certainly, Jim Buss doesn’t have this kind of appeal.
Jerry Buss stated that “Magic Johnson is probably the most beloved sports figure in Los Angeles history”—a statement that cannot be disputed.
Johnson is not only beloved in Los Angeles, but also pretty much everywhere else in the country.
The reason why is because he has an attractive personality—he’s polite, very hardworking and he knows how to run a team, much like he did as a player.
As the Lakers’ owner, expectations of Johnson will be lofty.
However, Lakers fans will believe in him because they have a reason to believe.
The same cannot be said for Jim Buss, a shadowy man that Lakers fans have grown to mistrust.
While this belief in Johnson may be a catalyst for criticism, it may also be a shield from it.
Why would anyone want to criticize someone as great as Magic Johnson?
Media coverage has grown exponentially over the years—because the Lakers are in Los Angeles, media coverage will be even greater than in other places.
Having been a player and TV analyst, Magic Johnson knows how to deal with the media and handle it in a way so that it isn’t completely overwhelming.
Also, as a player, Johnson was criticized by the media for being “unreliable” in clutch situations.
This experience will allow Johnson to handle criticism as an owner.
In 2008, the NBA revealed that 60 percent of players are bankrupt within five years of retirement.
Certainly, that number is way too high.
As a man who thrived after his playing career by creating businesses and investing, Magic Johnson knows what players need to do to maintain the wealth they accumulate during their playing years as well as how to grow it after their careers are over.
Pau Gasol has stated that Johnson has come to the locker room to discuss his post-retirement success.
As the Lakers’ owner, Johnson can continue doing this and advise players on how to utilize their wealth.
Hopefully, with his expertise, the 60 percent figure will decrease.
Jim Buss has been vastly involved with many of the Lakers’ player transactions, which leads one to believe that he is taking on the role of a general manager rather than focusing primarily on the business aspects of running a franchise.
Magic Johnson realizes this situation, stating that “Jim Buss is running the team,” not Mitch Kupchak.
Although he might provide some input, it seems that Johnson would not get too heavily involved in assembling the team because that’s not his job—it’s Kupchak’s job.
It’s important to create a fine line between owner and general manager responsibilities to avoid conflict.