couldn't sleep all of last night. Today was my first interview in months after a year of resume, cover letter, application, repeat. The Avengers cartoon blared on the tv screen as I attempted to will myself asleep only to result in failure. Along the way I discovered I really like that cartoon (it's on a couple streaming services should you want to watch it). About 730, I finally fell asleep. I woke up at 930: brushed my teeth, shaved my head, shaved my face, showered and washed it all off. It was my new beginning today. I walked confidently into the interview, answered their questions, took their examination (I think I aced it), and walked out of there with what I think will be a job that pays me to do something I'm good at. I hope everything lines up for me. It felt good to know that I tried and gave my best today. For those familiar with today's job search it becomes mundane to get rejected based off of one writing sample (usually a cover letter) you just edited another company's name out of. I hope that this begins my journey the same way that the late Jerry Buss started his. With an eye on Los Angeles, Jerry Buss' life was devoted to creating his dreamworld.
"Why see the world when you've got the beach"
A little preparation and a lot of hope out of the great northwest brought Jerry Buss back to L.A. after finishing his undergraduate college career. A big time sports fan, Mr. Buss' time at USC, the "it" program of the day in his eyes, turned him into an even bigger basketball fan. Wide eyed with optimism after his doctorate studies in chemistry, he invested in that small little bit of real estate and from there the legend grows. His real estate success translates into Mr. Buss' shrewd investment into his lifelong obsessions of sports. Buying into the Lakers when he bought them wasn't the prestigious event many would believe it is today. The Lakers hadn't won a championship in over 5 years and before that they hadn't won one since the 50's. Years of battling the Celtics made the Lakers a key part of NBA history, but they were the formidable losers far more often than the chest beating winners. Similar to buying a mansion in an old neighborhood, the prestige of the venue exists but the time when this was the hot spot of activity had passed. The 70s hadn't been too kind to the league. Boston and L.A. weren't the powerhouses they once were and the ABA was continuing to encroach on their space as the premier league in the basketball nation. Oscar Robertson was leading the players in a lawsuit against the NBA for attempting to merger with the ABA on antitrust grounds. By the mid-1970s, the leagues had merged, the players had agency, and the ABA talents were showcasing and leading their prospective teams to titles. Those prestigious old mansions had great players, but they were something you drove past on the way to the beach.
Enter Jerry Buss, fully optimistic and heavily invested in the outcome. He's made it in the city of his dreams and now he owns the mansion of his dreams. However fortuitous it might be, Buss inherits a team on the cusp of drafting young Magic Johnson to pair with their franchise cornerstone in Kareem Abdul-Jabaar. Unlike most who would look to antique their new furniture, Mr. Buss lifts off the old finish and adds new polish. The other neighbors watched as their neighbor began reconstructing views of their antique neighborhoods. Jerry Buss invited his counterparts to come party with him 82 days out of the year and meet the shiny new prestige of the league always with an eye on attracting the best and most diverse clientele imaginable. Magic Johnson arrived in the neighborhood just in time to be sucked into the largesse of the Buss experience. The benevolent Buss took the young star under his wing. They danced, they partied, they drank, they gambled, and they even dated together. Whenever it seemed the party just might end, Buss added another wrinkle in whatever way he could. He would fire the party coordinators, bring in new entertainment, and pay top dollar to maintain his mansion. This is the house Jerry built and he was determined to keep it that way.
"We built this city"
Jerry and Magic, Kareem, and Riley would run off more successful grand parties at the end of each season after that first season ended with a wild bang. The ride hit a few hitches after that as Kareem settled into retirement and joined the other patrons of the party and Riley took leave to grow into his own success after Buss gave him his start. It wouldn't be long before Buss and his finance team lead by Laker great Jerry West would be back at it at the height of the entertainment sphere. After getting outpartied by the Bad Boys and wrestling with the Bulls the house that Buss built was a bit dirty. Earvin was forced to retire after contracting a disease, but he was never forgotten and was always welcome. Buss liked to keep his friends and family close to him; he loved to bask in the greatness of others. Despite 2/5 of the main crew remaining from the glory days, Buss never stopped searching for his next Daisy to woo. After one big disappointment, where the entertainers had to end the party early, Buss and West looked on to get something bigger and better than the league had seen in some time.
The Shaqtus crew arrives to high expectations and a young kid from Pennsylvania entertains the ladies with his Italian. Still not the biggest establishment on the block after the cultural rewind to the lost generations musical trends and wild styles, Buss hires a new party coordinator. Who knew how much of a difference it made to use triangle cutouts for display? It was around this time he invited me into his house to share in the extravanganzas with him. I loved the spectacle of it all. Streamers, Dancers, top notch entertainers, and always the best audiences to observe, I fell in love with his vision as he implemented it. Constantly reinventing himself and his strategy, Buss threw one last giant party in his old mansion and built a brand new one and once again the inauguration was celebrated as a grand affair. Bringing in West's protege to keep things balanced, Buss still had a flair about him that attracted all comers and now he was teaching his children how to carry that legacy on with this new generation.
After some more relative disappointing end of the year celebrations, Buss begins the transition process of his estate. Even for Buss, the party will only go on so long if he never passes on the best way to manage it. After calling his Italian Daisy and asking her to choose him over her second love, he chose her over his bigger, more malcontent entertainer and shipped the Shaqtus crew out of town. The following years, were a bit of a touch and go. the Italian Daisy aka Kobe grew to new heights as a star with the Shaqtus Crew out of the picture, but the solo act was only going to be able to shine so bright on his own against the heat of other suns. For the first time in a while the Buss party was ending before I could even call for another round. Short on available talent at home, Buss swung for the fences and brought in a Spaniard to combine with his Italian. A who you say? A Spaniard. The artisan Gasol came in to re-focus his career and grow his reputation in the house that Buss built. Together, Buss, Kupchak, Kobe, Gasol, and ever zenful general put new polish on the new mansion and worked the crowds into frenzy with their basketball displays. Buss had done it again with his kids right by his side and to top it all off, the neighborhood even threw him a party to thank him for everything he did to lead them all back to a new level of engagement.
After being apart of the ride of my life in the house of Jerry Buss, it feels weird that I'm so attached to a man I never met. His story resonates with me in a way so few success stories really do. He never seemed to take for granted the opportunities available to him. He studied his ass off to learn about physical chemistry, but even more he worked his ass off to maintain an emotional chemistry in his organization. In a time where you saw owners skip town, hold cities hostage, and consistently never put a good product on the floor, Jerry Buss decided that his house was worth the investment so that I, as a fan, could enjoy the ride along with his family and him instead of just raking in the profits for himself. I can't think him enough for the inspiration that his story, his entertainers, and his house bring to me. Jerry Buss took a chance on an investment without any idea of what he would possibly get out of it. Take that leap. Learn, as I have, from the NBA's own Great Gatsby Jerry Buss.