Dr. Jerry Buss, one of the most successful sports team owners ever, is said to be dying of cancer at age 79. The former USC chemistry professor turned real estate investor bought the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team in 1979, and they have won ten NBA titles for him.
I saw Buss once, in an aisle at the Forum before a 1981 Lakers game, as he talked to a half-dozen of his lowest-paid employees — security guards, vendors, ushers — each of whom he seemed to know by name, same as if they were Buss`s employees named Magic or Kareem. On Buss`s arm was a blonde actress / model / whatever around age 20 who rolled her eyes in boredom, sighed, and tapped her foot as Buss joked with his minimum wage workers. She radiated the unspoken message, “Jerry, I want to go back to the Owner`s Suite and do coke, now!” He paid her absolutely no attention, but his scruffy part-time workers clearly appreciated that they had their millionaire playboy boss`s full focus while the starlet did not. They looked like they`d do anything for Dr. Buss.
I walked away from that scene thinking, “This Buss guy, he`s going to do pretty well for himself as a boss.”