The Lakers finally seem to be winding down from the business of summer. Shannon Brown is back, the two second rounders are in the fold, leaving the to-do list without many empty boxes.Which is nice, because tonight brings a well-deserved, proud moment for the Lakers franchise, as Dr. Jerry Buss is inducted into the Hall of Fame.
He owns the crown jewel franchise in a league that has quite literally gone global, but these days he keeps a lower profile and it's easy for fans to think of him (even if only in moments of weakness) as a man with a checkbook, forgetting how transformative a figure he's been in the history of the NBA. By recognizing the value of the game not just as sport but entertainment and changing the way fans experience the product, he helped usher the league out of a very dark, tenuous period. That, combined with paralleled success- 10 championships, 16 Finals appearances, and only two season without postseason play in three decades of ownership- makes the HOF an easy call, long in coming.
To get more insight into Dr. Buss and his influence, we spoke with Steve Springer, who covered the Lakers for over two decades for the L.A. Times (and contributed a couple great pieces on the Springfield-bound Buss during last season for ESPNLA.com.)
Then, after (sort of) lamenting the death of perennially unfunny "Cathy" comic strip, it's on to Trevor Ariza, the trade sending him to New Orleans, and how a man's future in the NBA can turn on a dime. (If by "dime" you mean "botched negotiation." You choose.) After, we dive into one of the summer's more unusual trends: the NBA and Judaism! (Trust us, as a pair of suburban Jewish kids, we never thought this would happen.) Amare Stoudemire has explored some familial Jewish roots in Isreal, Shaquille O'Neal is greeting TMZ cameras in Hebrew, and now LeBron James is consulting a mysterious orthodox rabbi on major business matters.
Amazing! Put it all together, and it shouldn't shock when I unveil the NBA's surprise choice for halftime entertainment at this year's All-Star Game.