Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/20/14
The greatest testament to Jerry Buss‘ career as a basketball executive lies not  in Inglewood or downtown Los Angeles, where his Lakers played during his time as their owner. It lies in New York, Dallas, Chicago and Miami, or just down the hall in the Clippers’ locker room. Under Buss, the Lakers were almost never terrible, and that is saying something. They were a sideshow at times, such as this season’s Dwight Howard-fueled debacle and the infantile feud between Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant at the dawn of this century. They failed to live up to their Showtime roots for most of the 1990s and have gone through several ill-fitting coaches since Pat Riley departed in 1990, with Randy Pfund, Bill Bertka and Frank Hamblen as the highlights (lowlights?). Yet they have rarely been beyond hope. Buss died Monday morning, bringing to an end one of the greatest runs of sustained excellence by an owner in NBA history. Since Buss purchased the franchise in 1979, the Lakers have been to 16 NBA Finals and claimed 10 championships, by far the most of any team in that span. They have missed the playoffs twice — although this year threatens to be the third time — and failed to make it past the first round only six times. The tempting thing is to dismiss the Lakers’ success as a product of their environment. From Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Shaquille O’Neal and beyond, the Lakers have been able to attract and keep high-priced stars thanks to their Hollywood reputation. Being in sparkly L.A. is always a factor, of course, just as South Beach was a lure for LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen. That is why those big cities mentioned earlier are the true homage to Buss’ legacy. The Knicks, Mavericks and Bulls have provided their share of embarrassingly bad squads in the past three decades, even though massive media markets should prevent any of them from fading into irrelevance. It took the Heat two decades and two championships to finally shed the “expansion” label, and the Clippers are only now starting to become something more than a laughingstock. Even the proud Celtics have stunk it up their share of the time during the Buss era. The Lakers persisted, however, and it started with the ownership. Like George Steinbrenner, Buss demanded begrudging respect from opposing fans because, no matter how greatly they despised the team he oversaw, deep down they wished their owner was just like him. Certainly, the experiment that brought Howard and Steve Nash to L.A. this year has been a disaster so far, but how many owners would even sign off on such a bold series of moves? How many fans would be dancing in the streets if their team had pulled off a similar would-be coup last summer? The answer is, all of them. In sports, the market does not make the team. The team makes the market. Otherwise, the Rangers would consistently trump the Red Sox in TV ratings and Phoenix would dominate much of its NHL competition. Like Micky Arison in Miami, Buss came into a market, took a brand and allowed it to fulfill its potential. Through his guidance, that potential turned out to be virtually limitless. Have a question for Ben Watanabe? Send it to him via Twitter at @BenjeeBallgame or send it here.

World Series: Game One live blog

Report: Chandler Jones to miss a month with hip injury

Lance Briggs left Bears' locker room to avoid the fighting

Could the Seahawks have gotten more for Percy Harvin?

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

Favre delays Lambeau return due to Bart Starr’s health


Cowboys release Michael Sam from practice squad

Fan in critical condition after being beaten before Bears game

Ben Roethlisberger rips the media

Tim Tebow: Gators don't have offensive leadership, lack heart

Colts punter asks Antonio Brown not to kick him in face

NFL: Luke Kuechly should not have been ejected

Report: Back injury could end Nathan Horton's career

Report: Ray Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups E – H

PHOTO: Fans place Manning’s 509 football in Hall of Fame

Jets sign Jeremy Kerley to $16M 4-year extension

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

Lego stadiums: turning a childhood hobby into a business

Bayless: Kobe's sexual assault trial gave him 'edge' and 'sizzle'

Blackhawks make leukemia patient's dream come true

College football's post-Week 8 Playoff projection

Ortiz surprised military families with World Series tickets

NFL Power Rankings Week 7

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Rice files grievance against Ravens

UEFA Champions League midway report

World Series: Game One live blog

Cowboys release Michael Sam

Bayless: Kobe's sexual assault trial gave him 'edge'

10 teams that should try to trade for Yoenis Cespedes

Five storylines to watch in the 2014 World Series

Ben Roethlisberger rips media

NFL Power Rankings Week 7

Pistorius sentenced to five years

Lane Kiffin trashed in political ad

Details of War Machine's suicide letter leaked

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.