DALLAS -- Since the Los Angeles Lakers are under new ownership following the death of their previous owner, Jerry Buss, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban doesn't believe the Lakers will ever be the same.
"Jerry Buss was the Lakers, so I don’t know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers,'' Cuban said prior to the Mavs' 94-89 win over Boston on Monday. "I don’t think there was a smarter owner in the history of the NBA than Jerry Buss, so that’s tough to replace.
"I don’t think people realize just how good of an owner Jerry was. I looked up to him a lot. Absolutely. So I don’t know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers.''
Buss died of cancer on Feb. 18, 2013 at the age of 80 after owning the Lakers since 1979. So why was Buss such a great owner?
"He just understood fans, entertainment, players, how to balance all of it together, how to deal with the NBA, when to listen to (ex-NBA commissioner) David (Stern) and when to ignore him and when to tell him what to do,'' Cuban said. "He had that breath of skills that every time I spoke to him -- usually I’m used to doing to the talking, just force of habit.
"But he’s one of the few people that when we sat down I did all the listening. So I don’t think there’s any question he’s by far the best owner in the history of the NBA. No exception.''
Cuban viewed Buss as a friend who he listened to as much as he could, and who was always offering words of encouragements.
"When I first got in (as an owner) he was like, 'You can’t take David too seriously, he’s going to do his thing, but you be yourself,' '' Cuban said. " 'Everything that I did that I’m most proud of, somebody was mad at me for it and called the commissioner, so stick to your guns.’
"When we were turning things around that first couple of years he was like, ‘You’re doing it right, don’t listen to the naysayers, just keep on doing what you’re doing.’ So I owe him a lot.''
Cuban said he shared this story with Jeanie Buss, who is the president of the Lakers and the daughter of the former Laker owner.
-- Dwain Price
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