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Jerry Buss Gets a Star

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His IMDB page is not going to impress you, but Dr. Jerry Buss is a star in this city. By whatever nebulous definition we seem to have for it.

So somebody bought him one — the Lakers owner gets a star on Hollywood Boulevard at Highland today (at noon, if you have nothing better to do). The official reason is for his help starting Prime Ticket, the local sports network that has morphed into Fox Sports Net West.

But it feels like Buss should have had one regardless – he’s an LA celebrity. And he has lived the life, having resided in Pickfair mansion where he threw parties that would have made Douglas Fairbanks proud, hung out with Jack Nicholson and countless beautiful women half his age, and been seen at more clubs than Lindsay Lohan.

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None of that would have raised an eyebrow if he were not the owner of the most celebrated sports team in the city of the last 25 years. He bought the Lakers in 1979 from Jack Kent Cook (along with the Kings, the Forum and a ranch) for $67.5 million. Now the Lakers alone are worth $500 million. We forget now what a maverick Buss was when he bought the team – bringing in dancers and promoting entertainment first instead of the stodgy game NBA basketball had become. Of course, that’s a lot easier when your team brings in a kid named Magic that first season, but don’t dismiss Buss and what he’s done to change the NBA.

Buss’s being honored today comes with a bit of irony – the man who built the other great NBA franchise, the Boston Celtics, is being honored in his passing. Red Auerbach and his Celtics beat the Lakers in the NBA finals six times in the 1960s, defining that franchise and making the Lakers the hard-luck losers. Buss is the reason we no longer think that way.