The late Dr. Jerry Buss owned the Los Angeles Lakers for over three decades, and during that time, he enjoyed the most successful tenure any owner of a major pro sports team in North America can ever boast.
He purchased the team in 1979, at a time when it had a bridesmaid reputation of not being able to win big games. Within several short years, it had strung together five NBA championships, including back-to-back titles in 1987 and 1988, making it the team of the 1980s in all sports.
After a dry period in the 1990s, Buss’ Lakers rose again by winning three straight rings from 2000 to 2002 behind Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. As he got older, his plan was to pass down the franchise to his children, which he eventually did.
But his daughter Jeanie Buss, who is the Lakers’ current owner, said he was offered an incredible amount of money by a group that wanted to purchase the team. She made this admission while on The Athletic NBA Show (h/t Sports Illustrated).
“I remember the first time he was offered a billion dollars for the Lakers and that was maybe 2003 or 2004, after the 3-peat that we had,” the younger Buss said. “He just was so shocked by that and couldn’t even imagine the team being worth that much.”
According to her, the elder Buss loved owning the Lakers so much that he just couldn’t bring himself to say yes.
“But he said ‘You know, Jeanie, the problem with that is that’s so much money. I would get the money and people would say what are you going to do with all that money? The first thing I’d want to do is buy the Lakers.'”
The elder Buss was in charge of the Purple and Gold until his death in 2013. Not coincidentally, the team went into a prolonged dry spell around that time and missed the playoffs an unthinkable six straight times. But it regained the world championship in 2020, and the current regime, led by the younger Buss and general manager Rob Pelinka, may have finally gotten the hang of things, as it could very well win it all again this coming season.