Mark Cuban Lauds Jerry Buss, Questions Whether LA Lakers Will Ever Be the Same

By all means, Mark Cuban, pile on the poor Los Angeles Lakers.

Speaking with Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News ahead of his team’s showdown with the Boston Celtics Monday night, Cuban—Dallas Mavericks owner, basketball impresario, cultural bon vivant—waxed schadenfreude on the plight of his seemingly rudderless rivals:

Jerry Buss was the Lakers, so I don’t know if the Lakers will ever be the Lakers. 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 an owner Jerry was.

To his credit—and against his Laker-hating nature—Cuban went on to laud Buss' unique brand of leadership for helping shape his own perspective:

He just understood fans, entertainment, players, how to balance all of it together, how to deal with the NBA, when to listen to David (Stern), when to ignore him, when to tell him what to do. He had that breadth of skills that every time I spoke to him – usually I’m the one who does all the talking, it’s just a force of habit. But when we sat down, I did all the listening. I don’t think there’s any question he was by far the best owner in the history of the NBA.

The Lakers are a hot mess, of course: Poised to finish with the team’s worst record in decades, L.A.’s last week has seen former coach Phil Jackson resurrect his career with the New York Knicks, its star player trash-talking his own teammates and, well, more losses. Always more losses.

Cuban clearly sees what many others have already insinuated: Lakers ownership, led by Jim Buss, hasn’t quite figured out the best way forward for the franchise.

After all, the team just got done handing Bryant a two-year, $48.5 million extension, leaving it in the precarious position of banking on both a meteoric draft pick and ...

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