A "weird feeling" crept over Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, and the reasons went beyond grieving over the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss dying Monday from an undisclosed form of cancer that affected his kidneys.
The Lakers have to find a way to maintain the legacy Buss left. Buss, 80, bought the Lakers in 1979, when he purchased the team along with the Forum, the NHL's Kings and a 13,000-acre ranch in Kern County from Jack Kent Cooke for $67.5 million. Buss then oversaw 10 of the Lakers' 16 NBA championships and built a franchise Forbes magazine recently valued at $1 billion.
No pressure, right?
"Is there a way to replace him and do exactly what he did and how he did it?" Kupchak said. "No. We'll just have to tackle it our own way."
It remains unclear whether the Lakers (25-29) will use Buss' passing as a rallying cry, beginning with a matchup tonight against the Boston Celtics (28-24), their longtime rival, at Staples Center. The Lakers enter the post All-Star break in 10th place in the Western Conference and sit 3 1/2 games behind the Houston Rockets (29-26) for the eighth playoff spot.
The Lakers will host an unspecified pre-game tribute for the late Buss and have a private memorial Thursday afternoon at the Nokia Theatre, with both ceremonies bringing reminders on the uncertainty ahead.
But Kupchak provided immediate clarity on how Buss' passing will affect the ownership structure.
Lakers brace for new era
L.A. Daily News | Feb 20