Before Jerry Buss bought the Los Angeles Lakers and went on to win 10 NBA titles, he was owner of the Los Angeles Strings -- a member of World Team Tennis.
One of the men who would come to know Buss best was working as WTT public relations director during the mid-1970s when he met the former USC graduate student-turned-real estate businessman.
"He had a different way of looking at things," long-time Buss family spokesman Bob Steiner said of Dr. Buss, who earned a Ph.D in physical chemistry from the University of Southern California. "He'd been a trained scientist. He once said, 'If you do your research properly, believe your conclusions.' He did his research, then acted on his conclusions."
Steiner spoke Monday at a team news conference regarding Buss, who died early Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
The Strings franchise lasted from1974 to 1978 in a league that included another figure bound to build one of the great professional sports franchises -- New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft owned the Boston Lobsters. At the league's first owners meeting, Buss presented the idea of signing big-name tennis players to raise the profile of the new organization, Steiner said.
It was a plan that required a lot of money.
"Give Jerry a blackboard and he could make things disappear," Steiner said. "He layed out a plan by which it would not cost them that much. But the other owners ultimately rejected it."
Buss expressed frustration at a restaurant meeting with Steiner that night, but never publicly vented his emotions, Steiner said. Buss offered an alternate plan that appealed to other owners the next day, Steiner said.
"That was the Jerry Buss I knew from that day forward," Steiner said. "He had some feelings. He'd vent them privately, never publicly. Then, he'd move forward, always maintaining the best interest of the Lakers and the NBA."
One year after the Strings folded, Buss bought the Los Angeles Kings, the Forum and Lakers. The team won an NBA title in his first season as owner -- the first of 10 titles under Buss' ownership.