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First Cup: Tuesday

2/19/2013
  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: Jerry Buss wanted the Lakers to stay in the family, so he long ago turned over business operations to daughter Jeanie, 51, and in recent years had son Jim, 53, making the decisions on the basketball side. Buss arranged to pass his 66 percent controlling ownership in the Lakers to his six children in one entity via his trust. "There is huge willingness to continue this in the Buss family," said Bob Steiner, family spokesman, on Monday. With both Jeanie and Jim groomed to handle their roles, the immediate future should feel the same as they did when Jerry was still around to make final decisions – although there is valid reason to wonder how – or for how long – Jim and Jeanie, who have not gotten along recently, will settle for sharing control. Either sibling could establish an ownership group – requiring an especially wealthy financier – that takes over in the event the six children agree to cash out with a majority vote among them to sell. Steiner reiterated Monday: "The entity can't be split. The heirs do not own the team individually. It has to be collective." The rest of the Lakers' ownership breakdown is: Ed Roski Jr. (3 percent), Patrick Soon-Shiong (4 percent) and Philip Anschutz (27 percent). Anschutz has included his personal Lakers stake in his epic sale of the AEG empire being conducted now; it is not known if his right of first refusal to purchase Buss' share can be transferred via sale.

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: If the Buss family goes against its stated desire to keep the team, there is a possibility that the Guggenheim group could eventually buy the Lakers and install Johnson as team president. But Magic Johnson said he sincerely hopes the team stays in the Buss family, and he has already cast his vote for the next chief executive. "I hope Jeanie Buss takes over the team," Johnson said. "She was Dr. Buss' right-hand person. The two people always running with Dr. Buss were Jeanie and myself. She knows this team better than anyone. She should have all the power, she should take over the empire." Johnson said he knows the love and respect upon which his mentor built this empire, and he hopes the children can agree that it is worth saving. "I know what the man wanted, and I'm hoping the kids can make that happen," he said. For now, Johnson is focused not on the uncertain future, but on his winding past, and the teacher who accompanied him on every crazy step. "We created this incredible magic that lasted for all these years. … My heart is broken," Johnson said softly, haltingly, the magic momentarily gone.

  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: In 31 years of covering professional sports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta, I’ve known both good team owners and bad, some who celebrated with fans and players, some who existed only as a name on corporate letterhead, some who hid like cowards whentheir team was sold and moved away (hypothetically speaking). But the best owner I’ve ever known just passed away. Jerry Buss died of cancer Monday. He was 80. Because I’m from Los Angeles, I had a chance to know the man a little. I covered two teams that he owned, first the NHL’s Kings and then the NBA Lakers. There are several stories I could tell from the early 1980s that would illustrate how emotionally invested Buss was in his teams, how he was driven to succeed in sports as much as he had in real estate, where he amassed his fortune. (True story: Buss once told me he could be broke one day and immediately go out and make a million dollars. When I asked him how, he responded, “I could tell you but you would never do it.”) But when I heard the news of Buss’s death, my first memory wasn’t of him a sports owner but as being almost one of the guys.

  • Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: Buss was more hands-on than many know, and he was this season even when ill. He wanted Mike D’Antoni, in part, because he hoped for a final glimpse of Showtime. An aging team could never give him that. And as the Lakers go forward with a broken roster, there’s a fear in Los Angeles that nothing will be the same in a post-Buss world. The Lakers are out of the playoffs today yet have the league’s largest payroll. Buss survived by creating revenue streams in his market — such as broadcasting — where others couldn’t. But he also believed in a system that allowed everyone to compete, and McCombs says it always wasn’t this way. The previous Lakers owner, Jack Kent Cooke, didn’t want to play a small-market team such as the Spurs, much less lose to them. Buss, instead, embraced the idea that the league should be fair. So as McCombs glowingly spoke of Buss on Monday — calling him “brilliant, humble and gracious” — something else McCombs said should resonate. “He never said, ‘I’m a big guy, you are a little guy.’” That’s why Los Angeles will miss him. As should San Antonio.

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: Byron Scott called late Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss a close friend and one of the greatest owners in the NBA. Buss died Monday morning. “He was not your typical owner,” Scott said. “Dr. Buss was a friend. He was one of the first persons that called me after I was fired in New Orleans and I hung out with him a few times, which was hard because every time we hung out, everyone took it as me trying to get the Laker job or us talking about the Laker job. They didn’t understand it was a genuine friendship between us. I love him to death because of all the things he brought to Los Angeles and the Lakers and what he meant to that city. Obviously it’s a very sad day in Los Angeles.”

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: The competitor in Buss always valued skills over spending power. When the luxury tax was introduced, Buss vowed never to cross the tax threshold. Not because he wanted to save money, but because he wanted to beat everyone on a level playing field. “What they’re trying to do is say, ‘Let’s all have the same number of chips and we’ll see who can build a team the best,’ ” Buss said in 2000. Eventually, other teams sprinted past the threshold, forcing Buss to do the same, but he was always the poker player at heart, angling to beat you with his intellect and his foresight and his bravado. “I like the concept of having the same number of weapons and just see who can run the ship the best,” Buss said. “That’s competition.” For the last 34 years, Buss was simply better at it than everyone else.

  • Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post: So what did Dwyane Wade think of Kobe Bryant successfully defending LeBron James down the stretch of the 2013 All-Star Game? “Nothin’,” Wade said. Which is about what Sunday’s entire exhibition exercise meant. Sure, the Heat’s three All-Stars fell short, with the East falling 143-138, James struggling with his shot for the first time in forever, Chris Bosh finding himself featured on blooper reels and Wade’s scoreless fourth quarter costing him an opportunity for his second All-Star MVP. Yet, Tuesday, regular-season reality returns, and should prove refreshing. Erik Spoelstra, who showed his relaxed side while coaching the East, will lead his first full-scale practice in a full three weeks. He will do so with his team in exactly the same strong position that it held after last Thursday’s win at Oklahoma City – first in the Eastern Conference, four games clear of New York. He will do so with the Heat healthy, riding a seven-game winning streak, and yet without any creeping contentment.

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: New Orleans Hornets guard Eric Gordon said Monday night he understands his name likely will surface in rampant trade scenarios before Thursday afternoon's trading deadline, but concedes it's the nature of the business and he's comfortable in New Orleans. "I'm not really worried about it," Gordon said. "I've just got to go out and play my game and look forward to this week. Whatever happens, happens. It's happened to be before where I was traded. Business is business. I really don't worry about that. I'm just focused on this team. For any player that goes from team to team, whatever the situation is, it's all about playing basketball. And it's good to represent whatever organization you're in. I'm here. And I look forward to being here. That's that. Our team is building as one. And we'll see what goes on from here."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: DeMarcus Cousins meets up with Tim Duncan again Tuesday night. Cousins has a great amount of respect for Duncan, but after the last meeting with the Spurs, Cousins kept his comments short about Duncan. "He's a good NBA player ... I'm not going to even get into that," Cousins said. "Tim Duncan is a good player." There was on sense of anger when discussing Duncan, but the last time Cousins played Duncan Nov. 9 in Sacramento, he engaged in some trash talk that led to Spurs television analyst (and Duncan's former teammate) Sean Elliott to call out Cousins on the air, citing his need to respect Duncan. This led to Cousins leaving the locker room to confront Elliott after the game upon being told via messages on his phone. The league deemed Cousins' confrontation hostile and threatening enough to suspend Cousins for two games.

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: During All-Star Weekend, Michael Jordan gave an interview in advance of his 50th birthday and said only four players from this era could have been superstars in his era – Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan. Nowitzki was properly humbled. “Obviously, I was a Bulls’ fan, and Jordan was my hero,” Nowitzki said. “For him to even know my name is crazy, to be honest. Everybody knows he’s the greatest of all time. For him to even say my name is weird.”

  • Christopher Dempsey ofThe Denver Post: The best part of the NBA's All-Star Weekend for Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried wasn't so much the chance to put himself in the spotlight, but, for a few days, to feel a bit like a kid again. The players he idolized growing up were everywhere. "Meeting Shaq (Shaquille O'Neal) for once in my life, meeting Charles Barkley, meeting Karl Malone, those types of guys that I model my game after," Faried said. "Dominique Wilkins gave me a pep talk before the dunk contest. That was an honor." Wilkins' advice? "First he told me to pull out my best stuff early," Faried said. "I kind of didn't do one of my best dunks, the first one. But the second one, I said, 'If I'm going to be out, let me get out with a bang.' "

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: In a perfect world, Channing Frye would be at the Rose Garden on Tuesday night, in the starting lineup for the Phoenix Suns, playing in the city where he makes his summer home. But life isn't perfect. And neither is Frye's heart. In September, during a routine preseason physical for the Suns, an echocardiogram revealed that the 29-year-old forward has an enlarged heart. His season, doctors said definitively, was over. His career path -- which included two years in Portland -- is a little more uncertain. He is under doctor's orders not to run. Or work out. Or do anything that escalates his heart rate. The extent of his activity these days is yoga and golf. "Just give me 20 minutes to run," Frye says, sitting against the wall in his yoga room. "I mean, when's the last time I've been able to run? It's been six months." He is a little down today -- Monday -- but it's only perceptible because he says so. Five days ago, during a checkup, doctors felt the need to prescribe beta blockers to help restrict his heart rate. Frye is careful not to call it a setback, but the development weighs on him. He is a strict believer in practicing naturopathic treatment, and the directive for traditional medicine ends the chance of him beating this obstacle on his terms.