February 16, 2013

Buss as boss

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."

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

Women are effectively blind to people below their status.

Anonymous said...

Is his daughter still going out with Phil Jackson?

Anonymous said...

Buss had the very high genetic iq but combined it with the right people skills

Glossy said...

I've seen bosses who achieved a lot of success while treating subordinates like crap. And we've all read about such bosses too - Steve Jobs, David O. Russell whose new movie you recently reviewed, others.

Glossy said...

Oh, and isn't James Cameron known as a terrible boss? Very successful guy. I would guess that there isn't much correlation between niceness and managerial success.

Steve Sailer said...

"Women are effectively blind to people below their status."

Everybody involved was hyperaware of everybody else's status.

Anonymous said...

Nice guys finish last. I don't think someone like Buss would last very long on Wall Street.

Steve Sailer said...

Who said he's a nice guy?

Anonymous said...

Here comes the self-loathing masquerading as telling it like it is that mars so many an isteve message boards.

What anonymous means is why won't that pretty girl look at me. It's ok to be frustrated guys the problem starts when you extrapolate your failures into a theory for how the world works.

Auntie Analogue said...


For that blonde starlet date of his, she was either on the Buss, or off the Buss.

Navian said...

There has been a palpable sense of unease in Laker territory as the reign was being handed down. With the way this season has gone and now with news about the good Dr. Jerry Buss, it may be a good idea to add Zoloft in the breakfast cereal sold in SoCal.

Anonymous said...

I think Buss is (was) a good owner. Much better than Jim Buss, who appears to being living off of and down to every cliche of A Great Man's Son.

But...let's be real. The Lakers have won a number of those ten titles under Buss because of where they are. It attracts free agents and, more importantly, is deemed as a central market to David Stern and his refs.

You look at a team like the 90's Jazz (most wins for the decade, including Chi) or 90's Blazers. Why did these teams fail to win the title? First and foremost because Stern did not want them to.

Steve Sailer said...

Are you trying to say the NBA refs favored L.A. over Sacramento in the 2002 playoffs?

Hunsdon said...

Caius Iulius Caesar did that.

Anonymous said...

For that blonde starlet date of his, she was either on the Buss, or off the Buss.

Or in the Buss.

Navian said...

"You look at a team like the 90's Jazz (most wins for the decade, including Chi) or 90's Blazers. Why did these teams fail to win the title? First and foremost because Stern did not want them to."

The 2000 Blazers basically just choked hard on the Big One (game seven) Western Conference Finals.
To much Jordan in 1992 Same problem for the Jazz in 1997 and 1998

Anonymous said...

The regulars who post here are bitter about their failures. Do not take their criticism seriously

jody said...

jerry buss is one of the greatest owners of all time. i hope he pulls through.

the lakers on the other hand could be heading towards where the cowboys are now.

funny that one of the greatest owners of all time is in the same city with one of the worst owners of all time, don "sterling" tokowitz.

speaking of empires creaking and on the precipice of possible decline, what about this 30 year old mexican woman, who's been married 3 times already (!), who is now the sole heir of the in-n-out empire. i think the in-n-out situation kind of encapsulates what has happened to america. industrious german immigrants start hamburger chain, 50 years later, a mexican inherits an empire built upon decades of hard work and slowly but steadily fritters it away.

jody said...

"Are you trying to say the NBA refs favored L.A. over Sacramento in the 2002 playoffs?"

free tim donaghy!

FWG said...

Bill Simmons definitely subscribes to the NBA conspiracy theories. A few years back he wrote quite a bit about that 2002 series.

As an aside, the NBA Dunk Contest sucks anymore.

Landu said...

Steve:

You should do a post on Steve Fossett, my first boss out of college in 1986. The media did not really report on how risky he was in his Wall Street Life as well as his hobbies.

Anonymous said...

"Women are effectively blind to people below their status."

Women are effectively blind to guys who never leave Mom's basement.

Gloria

Anonymous said...

He paid her absolutely no attention

Maybe she was a beard. I mean he was watching a bunch of sweaty men running around in short pants.

Anonymous said...

Well here comes another White Defendant.... with no legs. IT should be worth a mention.

Anonymous said...

Buss has benefited quite substanially from the 1965 immigration act and the 1986 amnesty. If not for the population boom created by these acts, where would he be today?

Elites are doing pretty well because of mass immigration, and are able to insulate themselves from the effects of it (do you think the Buss children went to LA public schools), so what's to worry about? Sure some surly white blue collar guys have had to leave LA for Seattle and Portland, but they were jerks who insisted on socialist ideas like "unionization" and a "40 hour workweek"!..... and anyway, the Mexicans who replaced them are way nicer and more cheerful. So really it's a win-win situation. Except for our poor Scots-Irishman "Whiskey", who now has to compete against all these alpha male Mexican bucks.

Buss's "girlriend" was likely being paid to stand around - and do whatever else Buss felt like. When you're worth hundreds of millions of dollars, you can hire people to do almost anything. Personally I think it'd be sorta nice if super high net worth Americans hired Americans to do manual labor, at something slightly above minimum wage, instead of hiring illegals.... but I'm a socialist, so I don't think Paul Ryan would listen to me.

Anonymous said...

speaking of empires creaking and on the precipice of possible decline, what about this 30 year old mexican woman, who's been married 3 times already (!), who is now the sole heir of the in-n-out empire. i think the in-n-out situation kind of encapsulates what has happened to america. industrious german immigrants start hamburger chain, 50 years later, a mexican inherits an empire built upon decades of hard work and slowly but steadily fritters it away.

You must be referring to Lynsi Torres:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynsi_Torres

She's not Mexican. She was born Lynsi Snyder and is the granddaughter of the founder of In-N-Out, Harry Snyder.

Anonymous said...

As an aside, the NBA Dunk Contest sucks anymore.

That's because there aren't more dunks left to do. They've all been done.

If you watch the old dunk contest footage, it's pretty underwhelming since all those dunks are fairly commonplace by now.

Glossy said...

Anonymous: "Women are effectively blind to people below their status."

Gloria: "Women are effectively blind to guys who never leave Mom's basement."

The extent of the female capacity for logical thought illustrated:

Gloria has agreed with anonymous, but from her tone it's clear that she thinks that she's disagreed with him violently.

Eric said...

Nice guys finish last. I don't think someone like Buss would last very long on Wall Street.

I've never seen anything that justifies the high opinion the paper shufflers on Wall St. have of themselves.

Dennis Dale said...

alpha male Mexican bucks

Never been to So Cal, eh? Mexicans are the bravest people on earth, but even the toughest cholo rarely exhibits "alpha" behavior. He doesn't want to lead anyone, he's not particularly ardent in pursuit of women, and he averages about 5'5" tall (Hell, that's what impresses me most about their physical valor. The sight of a diminutive veterano gangbanger chasing a beefy red-headed jock, who contented himself with throwing cans of beer at him from the back of his friend's truck as they fled, remains fixed by shame in my mind, decades later).

Dennis Dale said...

"Women are effectively blind to guys who never leave Mom's basement."

Apparently you have to be a emotionally stunted shut-in to rate below Gloria's status.

FWG said...

@Anonymous 11:44,

True. I can still be entertained by the old ones though. Now it's all swaggering bravado with a courtside host clearly using black vernacular. Of course that seems to be the way the NBA is going and has gone for the better part of a decade.

Anonymous said...

The stench of loserdom hangs over each comment when the topic is a winner like Buss

rob said...

Glossy said...
he extent of the female capacity for logical thought illustrated...


Ya know, I'd be a lot more sympathetic to the sad-sack internet betas if ya'll didn't so obviously despise women.

Anonymous said...

He's no Walter Brown...check the name on the trophy!

peterike said...

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.

That, my friends, is Game in action. She did him all the harder that night because he treated her with disdain.

Hacienda said...

To Dennis Dale,

Speaking of real life audio-visual epiphanies.

I'll never forget in the mid 80's walking near the city government buildings in downtown L.A. a blonde head late 20s screaming out of the passenger window "I HATE LOS ANGELES" to a crowd of Mexicans.

We won't be seeing blondes do that anymore.

Truth said...

"That, my friends, is Game in action. She did him all the harder that night because he treated her with disdain."

No, actually that's 200 million dollars, and ownership of a sports franchise in action. She wouldn't have fucked him if he had brought her flowers?

Anonymous said...

I'll never forget in the mid 80's walking near the city government buildings in downtown L.A. a blonde head late 20s screaming out of the passenger window "I HATE LOS ANGELES" to a crowd of Mexicans.

We won't be seeing blondes do that anymore.

Are you implying blondes were smarter back then? As in yelling something that was a clever way of saying "Go back to Mexico!" I wonder also if she was a natural blonde, and maybe also tall and skinny.

Robert Holmgren said...

Has it occurred to anyone that the blond arm candy was also a low level employee?

bjdubbs said...

I haven't kept up with world-shifting revelations of "game," but does it really amount to no more than "treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen"? My uncle told me that when I was 15.

jody said...

"She's not Mexican. She was born Lynsi Snyder and is the granddaughter of the founder of In-N-Out, Harry Snyder."

my mistake then.

she's seems to prefer slumming with mexicans though. martinez, and now torres? had two kids with martinez.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember it like that. Boss loved come down with his latest young escort and do man of the people act for her for they left

Anonymous said...

"On Buss's arm was a blonde actress / model / whatever around age 20."

That could have been his daughter Jeanie. In 1981, she was 20 years old and looked like an actress / model / whatever.

Whiskey said...

If you are hot and a woman, why would you bother with even noticing much less schmoozing with the lower level employees, knowing their names and and getting them to work extra hard? Hot women leverage their sex appeal (a declining asset) to fund them through their years where they are not hot.

This is why relatively few hot women have the personal touch required for service industries, where you have to push your employees to extra effort to be more competitive than the next guy. That was Buss's success. I can figure a few less than lovely women who were service type industry successes. They weren't born hot, garnering men's attention, they had to use other measures. Same with guys lacking the personal touch, the charisma and understanding that Buss had. Jobs and Gates lacked that ability to be Father/Coach figure that no one wanted to disappoint, but they depended more on product than service.

Anonymous said...

I'd say that having $200 million and owning a sports franchise probably couldn't have hurt the appeal of Mr. Buss.

Anonymous said...

Buss luvs em hookers.

Anonymous said...

she's seems to prefer slumming with mexicans though. martinez, and now torres? had two kids with martinez.

Well you can't buy class. She may be rich but she seems to be from a blue collar background. The fortune is built on fast food.

Anonymous said...

"That could have been his daughter Jeanie. In 1981, she was 20 years old and looked like an actress / model / whatever."

Jerry Buss is pretty famous/notorious for dating an endless string of 20something Playboy Bunny/model types for the past 35 years. He's sort of a superannuated version of the Matthew McConoughey character in Dazed and Confused: he gets older, they stay the same age.

No I'm not a robot. I'm not Protestant. said...

Has it occurred to anyone that the blond arm candy was also a low level employee?

Maybe even an unpaid volunteer? Or maybe she was paid in coke?

Anonymous said...

Jerry Buss is pretty famous/notorious for dating an endless string of 20something Playboy Bunny/model types for the past 35 years. He's sort of a superannuated version of the Matthew McConoughey character in Dazed and Confused: he gets older, they stay the same age.

How about Tom Cruise? He keeps choosing younger and younger women, nearly all of them tall and skinny.

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 4:18 pm whimpered: Well you can't buy class. She may be rich but she seems to be from a blue collar background. The fortune is built on fast food.

Hunsdon, reluctant class warrior: Wow, I know, amirite? Proles, man, PROLES. Whatever can we do with these people? They probably don't even like Lucian Freud!

If only the fortune had been built in some classy way, like a hedge fund, or reinsurance derivatives, instead of actually feeding the proles.

John said...

His Impact on the team has been evident since Mr Buss 'retired' to fight for his health.
Thank you, Dr Buss, your 'jersey' needs to hang with the rest of the Great Lakers.
GO LAKERS!!!

Truth said...

" Anonymous said...

I'd say that having $200 million and owning a sports franchise probably couldn't have hurt the appeal of Mr. Buss."

Is there an echo in here?

Micha Elyi said...

Jerry Buss dies at 80; Lakers owner brought 'Showtime' success to L.A.
--Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2013