Jerry Buss is the hugely likable and incredibly extraordinary owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, a basketball team which is one of the most successful sports franchises in America. It is the second highest most valuable team, and Sports Illustrated has labeled Buss the number one best NBA owner. Making twenty-eight playoffs in his thirty-one year ownership, and winning eight of those championships, sets Buss apart from the pack. He and his family are heavily involved in the Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation. Plus, Buss' personal contributions to a wide range of causes and charities has earned him several awards of philanthropic recognition. Lastly, he has funded millions of dollars in scholarships at a minimum of three universities.
Born in 1934, Gerald Hatten Buss grew up in Wyoming. He was interested in the sciences as a child, and when he was old enough, he enrolled in the University of Wyoming, graduating in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science. Choosing to pursue his studies, he moved to Los Angeles where he could attend the University of Southern California, and obtained both his Master of Science and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. He completed his doctorate by the time he was twenty-four, which is young for most students. From that point on, he could legitimately call himself Dr. Buss. He subsequently went to work for the Bureau of Mines for a short time, and also taught at the university. Teaching was his true love, but he needed a better income, so he decided to supplement his earnings with real estate transactions.
Although Buss is often referred to as a real estate mogul, his real prowess was seen when he made history in 1979 by initiating and completing the largest transaction of all time in professional sports. Not only did he purchase the LA Lakers, but at the same time, he also took over the LA Kings hockey team, The LA Forum, and a ranch. Around the same time, he owned interests in various teams of the World Team Tennis, and had a hand in operating the Women's National Basketball Association.
Truly, what makes Buss significant in the sports world, in addition to his many wins, is that he made advertising an important part of the sport. Today, it is commonplace for businesses to put their names on sports complexes like stadiums and arenas, but when Buss approached a major bank to offer naming rights for The Forum, the practice was unheard of. He is known in business circles as the man who ventured outside of the box when it came to marketing innovations. Additionally, in 1985, along with Bill Daniels, he again took sports and advertising to a new level with the release of Prime Ticket Network, a sports network on basic cable, which is now Fox Sports Net West or FSN West. For these reasons, he changed the landscape of professional sports and how it interacted with the business community.
Another of his strengths was seeking out superior talent. In fact, Buss has consistently attracted and mentored basketball player greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and Shaquille O'Neal, as well as Lisa Leslie, from the Los Angeles Sparks, a team in the WNBA.
Jerry Buss may have become rich and famous, but that was not his goal at all. According to various interviews with family and friends, Buss only wanted to be able to live comfortably with season tickets to any league. Yet, he took a mere ownership investment in a sports team and turned it into the most incredible franchise in history. By the way, Jerry Buss has become very well known in Las Vegas too, as he made several appearances in the GSN show High Stakes Poker.
- Steve Jobs (Apple)
- Bill Gates (Microsoft)
- Jack Welch (GE)
- Ken Fisher (Fisher Investments)
- David J O'Reilly (Chevron)
- Frederick W Smith (FedEx)
- Steve Ballmer (Microsoft)
- Michael Bloomberg (Bloomberg FMC)
- Michael Dell (Dell)
- Jerry Buss (LA Lakers)
- Warren Buffett (Berkshire Hathaway)
- Donald Trump (Trump Organization)
- John Ferraro (Ernst & Young)