Barber Shop Memories of Lakers Owner Jerry Buss

One fan described Buss as a chemist who knew all the right ingredients to make the city fall in love with the Lakers

By Ted Chen and Neil Costes
|  Monday, Feb 18, 2013  |  Updated 6:08 PM PDT
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The death of Lakers owner Jerry Buss was the big topic of conversation at the New Millennium barber shop in Leimert Park on Monday, Feb. 18, 2013.

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With its purple and gold seats and a Lakers jersey on the wall, stepping into the New Millennium barber shop in Leimert Park on Monday was like a living tribute to Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center earlier in the morning.

The barber shop is a Los Angeles institution that's all about the Lakers, and customers understand  "Showtime" didn't start with the players, but with the owner.

"It's like dominos," Lakers fan Iilya Dailey said. "He had the opportunity to put things together to give the city the greatness that any other city doesn't have."

Buss received a doctorate in physical chemistry from USC, and that's exactly how Dailey described him, as a chemist who knew all the right ingredients to make a city in fall in love with the Lakers.

That love is what keeps countless sports bars and restaurants in business, like Buffalo Wild Wings in the Crenshaw District.

"It means that we can hire more people, people have more hours, they make more tips, they have more money to spend," Lakers fan Karim Webb said.

Dr. Buss worked his magic to create Lakers fans out of entire families, like the Aldanas of Alhambra. They wore their jerseys to dinner on Monday to honor the man whose players gave them so many thrills.

"Exciting times, you know, whether they won or they lost, ups and downs, it was just always exciting," David Aldana said.

"He brought that magic to Los Angeles," Crystal Aldana said.

His impact grew beyond just the city. For decades, professional basketball was in the shadow of other major sports, but Buss helped make an entire nation want to watch.

"TV wasn't like it is today," Lakers fan Barry Thomas said. "Without having a Laker and Celtic rivalry, there was no NBA, and you've got to give him tremendous credit for knowing how to build a product."

Even though there's a small tribute to the LA Clippers at the New Millennium barber shop, many people there say no matter how well the Clippers do, this town will always belong to the Lakers, thanks to Jerry Buss.

"Players win championships," one fan said. "But players can't win championships without great ownership."

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