When Jerry Buss bought the Lakers in 1979, the businessman shelled out the then $ 20 million to acquire the franchise. With inflation, that is $ 70 million today. How much would the club be worth if it were on sale now? Knowing that the Clippers were sold for two billion dollars and that the prestige of the Lakers is on a whole new level, one would think that it would take at least three billion dollars to afford the team.
A multinational managed like an SME
The value of the franchise has therefore increased forty-fold or fifty-fold since Jerry Buss took over and the problem is that the team is still run like a family business, despite the now colossal sums at stake.
As Magic Johnson explained in the interview with “First Take”, the Lakers are a “gold mine” and he is ready to buy if ever the Buss family decides to put the franchise up for sale. So far, that doesn’t seem to be the intention of Jerry Buss’s children at all, although minority shareholders and fans are starting to lose patience.
Because to understand the current management problems in Los Angeles, highlighted by Magic Johnson, it is necessary to understand that Jerry Buss left the club to his many children, in a “trust” that Jeanie managed to wrest from his brothers.
Jerry Buss’ six children each hold 11% of the stake
A ladies’ man, Jerry Buss thus recognized six children (Jeanie, Jim, Johnny, Jesse, Joey, Janie), who all worked for the Lakers after his death. Each has an 11% stake in the Lakers, for a total of 66% which gives them control of the franchise. One can easily understand how this distribution leads to governance and hierarchy issues within the club, each child of Jerry Buss considering himself equal with the others, and legitimate to give his opinion.
Is this management viable? Difficult to think, while several clans seem to work within the club, GM Rob Pelinka being close to Kobe Bryant, Jeanie Buss having long been in a relationship with Phil Jackson and being very close to Kurt Rambis and his wife Linda, when Magic Johnson remains on the lookout for a sale. Not to mention that LeBron James dreams of becoming an owner when he retires from sports.
Sharks on the prowl?
It is indeed perhaps the elephant in the room at the Lakers, many people seeming to wait for the Buss family to decide to pocket the jackpot by selling the club, this pretty basket of crabs therefore just waiting to be start.
Philip Anschutz, 128th fortune in the world and owner of the Staples Center (but also other venues around the world through his entertainment company, AEG), is also ready. The first minority shareholder with 27% of the club’s shares, the ultra-conservative billionaire also has a right of first refusal which makes him the priority buyer in the event of the Lakers being put up for sale. Hence the question of Max Kellerman on the set of “First Take”: who of Kobe Bryant, LeBron James or Magic Johnson is closest to Philip Anschutz? Impossible to say, but it may well be the problem of the current Lakers, where everyone tries to place themselves while waiting for the continuation …
For now, Jeanie Buss is rounding his back and hopes that the return of the victorious seasons will reaffirm his position and the legitimacy of his family with the fans. But is it realistic in the cacophony that currently reigns at the club?