The Lakers and owner/executive Jeanie Buss miss the late Jerry Buss in many ways.
“The Laker way isn’t the same because Dr. Buss isn’t here,” said Jeanie Buss on Thursday, live on ESPN Los Angeles-AM (710) with Mark Willard and Mychal Thompson.
Jerry Buss died in February of complications from cancer.
Jeanie Buss said her father might have been the key to keeping free agent center Dwight Howard, who left as a free agent to the Houston Rockets.
“When it came time to try to convince Dwight to stay, we lost the best closer in the business in Dr. Buss,” she said. “Putting up a billboard probably wasn’t the right thing, but we have to learn how to do things differently because Dr. Buss isn’t here.”
The Lakers put up a number of billboards around the city with the message “Stay.”
“There was one visit where my dad got to sit down with Dwight, but they would have probably have had a better relationship if my dad wasn’t sick,” Jeanie Buss said.
Jeanie Buss was a rarity at Lakers games last season, instead of her being a usual fixture at her seats opposite the Lakers’ bench.
“I’ve had a really tough year losing my dad,” she said. “I really needed time to just to have some quiet time and not be engaged the way I normally would be with the Lakers.”
The outpouring from fans was appreciated by the Lakers and the Buss family.
“It was overwhelming for me and my family to see the extent of the love that people had for him,” she said. “I think he would be humbled … at how respected he was.”
The Lakers will remember Buss this season near his Jan. 27 birthday.
“We’re going to celebrate Dr. Buss at a game on Jan. 28,” said Jeanie Buss. “That will be a time we can bring people together and celebrate his memory.”