Jeanie Buss’s dad, the late great Jerry Buss, was a great poker player. He would always try to get his daughter to play, trying to teach her the value of ‘hanging in there, until you’re dealt a good hand.’ Once you get the cards, it’s all about capitalizing on the opportunity.
In the summer of ’19, when LeBron James decided to join the Lakers, Jeanie got the best hand an NBA owner can get. After Anthony Davis requested a trade from the Pelicans, it was time for her to take the plunge.
That was difficult for me because I get attached, especially to those young players. But in order to get great talent, you have to give up great talent. So I like to think that I have that gene that he (Jerry Buss) was talking about.Jeanie Buss, All the Smoke
Trading Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and three first-round picks for AD proved her father’s lesson bore fruit. In the span of two years, Jeanie turned the Lakers from a non-playoff team to a contender. At that point, LeBron was the one with all the right cards in his hand. It was time for him to capitalize on the talent Buss and the Lakers front office put around him.
But the circumstances – Kobe’s tragic passing, being in the bubble, fighting for social justice – made it that much harder for him to do that. Nevertheless, LeBron delivered. He delivered in all fields. How he juggled between all of them left Jeanie in awe.
I was so impressed with his composure and his purpose in the things that he said. One of his big campaigns was to get arenas open to be voting centers. I didn’t really understand how much difference that would make, but it did. He’s not one to back down from a challenge.Jeanie Buss, All the Smoke
All that stuff that transcends the game of basketball is what Jeanie admires the most about LeBron. He’s an all-time great on the court, but he’s just as powerful off the court. Both things combined turn James into something the Lakers owner has never been around before.
I like to say he’s like the closest thing to a superhero I’ve ever met. In that, he’s so powerful and so strong and smart, but he does things for the good.Jeanie Buss, All the Smoke
When it’s all set and done, that will make LeBron’s legacy unique. Wearing the Purple and Gold will also be a part of that legacy. All because Jeanie Buss played her cards right. Just as her father taught her.