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Buss as a Hall of Famer? It has a definite ring to it

Lakers owner is enshrined as contributor. Johnson and West go in again with Olympic teams.

August 13, 2010|Broderick Turner

He has presided over the Lakers since 1979, turning the franchise into one of the most successful in sports.

And for that, for all he has done to uplift the NBA, the Lakers and the game of basketball, Lakers owner Jerry Buss will be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday in Springfield, Mass.

He will be joined in the class of 2010 by Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, Cynthia Cooper and high school coach Bob Hurley Sr.

The 1992 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team known as the "Dream Team," which included Lakers Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, and the 1960 Olympic team, which included another Lakers Hall of Famer, Jerry West, also will be inducted.

Dennis Johnson, Gus Johnson and Brazilian star Maciel "Ubiratan" Pereira will be honored posthumously.

Buss, 76, will be the third Laker to go into the Hall of Fame as a contributor, joining broadcaster Chick Hearn and Pete Newell.

Under Buss' guidance, the Lakers have won 10 NBA championships, the latest coming in June over the Boston Celtics, and have been to 16 Finals.

Buss declined interview requests, so others had to speak for him.

"I'm overtaken by emotion because he is so deserving," said Johnson, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for the second time. "The league wouldn't be where it is if it hadn't been for Dr. Buss.

"If you talk about the fan experience, he was way ahead of the curve. He was way ahead of his time, with the team on the court, with the Laker Girls, with the band. He really understood fan experience way before it became common like it is now."

When he took over the Lakers, Buss seemed to have a vision and it started when the team won a coin flip and selected Johnson from Michigan State with the No. 1 overall pick in 1979.

That spun the era known as "Showtime."

"He taught us about consistency in management," NBA Commissioner David Stern said in a statement. "Under his leadership, the Lakers have been perennial contenders. Their record is really quite extraordinary in terms of Finals appearances.

"He taught us about entertainment value and Showtime. And he very much led the way with respect of the understanding of the courtside seat -- sports meeting beachfront property. I applaud the selection."

In the eyes of Jeanie Buss, Jerry's daughter and the team's executive vice president of business operations, her dad is the best owner in sports.

"He knows the formula. He's committed to winning," Jeanie said. "But he's smart because he runs it like a business. Usually people think that when you run something like a business, that means you can't win. But he's proven that you can be successful on the floor and off the floor, and that's a model that has brought him so much success."

West and Buss worked together to build championship teams in the 1980s and then again in the early 2000s with three titles in a row.

"I'm thrilled for Jerry," West said. "He deserves to be in there. His success is incredible."

Like Johnson, West will be inducted into the Hall of Fame for the second time.

He was enshrined as a player in 1980 and now will go in with the 1960 Olympic team.

"I'm excited for the other guys," West said. "I'm excited that I'm in with the team."

Johnson recalled how the Dream Team blew out every opponent, winning by an average of 43.8 points, and never having Coach Chuck Daly call a timeout.

"It's great to represent the Lakers and represent this great city of Los Angeles," said Johnson, who was enshrined as a player in 2002. "That's what I've always tried to do since I've come here, is just represent the whole community and Lakers fans. It'll be a Laker day, in a sense."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Class of 2010

This year's inductees into the Basketball Hall of Fame (Today, 4 PDT, NBA TV):

Karl Malone

Scottie Pippen

Dennis Johnson

1992 U.S. Olympic Team

1960 U.S. Olympic Team

Jerry Buss

Bob Hurley Sr.

Cynthia Cooper

Gus Johnson

Maciel "Ubiratan" Pereira

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