As far as Jerry Buss is concerned: Game on!
The Los Angeles Lakers’ legendary owner isn’t too worried about those who took their talents to South Beach or anywhere else this summer.
The acquisitions of Steve Blake, Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff were made to bolster to two-time defending champs, Buss said. It wasn’t a response to LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh joining forces with the Heat.
“Our intentions were to sign those players prior to Miami coalescing all of the talent that was left over,” Buss said with a laugh. “I don’t think we reacted to them. Once the season is over, we look backwards on the season and say, ‘Were there any weaknesses? Could we do something to improve this team?’
“And we did that quite independently of Miami or Orlando or Chicago, all of who are going to be very good. I think Denver will be excellent this year. Utah is always good, always tough for us. So I think we just prepared ourselves for the general war, not specifically for anyone.”
When you’ve got Kobe Bryant leading the troops — no offense Phil — you’re going to feel good about your chances in battle and for a threepeat. Oh yeah, the Lakers still have Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum.
So how good can this version of the Lakers be?
“When I look at this team, every single individual on that team seems to me capable of playing a very important role next year and as of now, I feel there’s a good chance this could be the best team we’ve ever had,” Buss said.
Buss admitted to watching the “The Decision” and thought LeBron let a few people down. The recent Hall of Fame inductee can’t help but be juiced by the haul former employee Pat Riley pulled off in Miami.
“Suddenly there’s this juggernaut out there that we have a chance to play against and that excites me, that really excites me because, quite honestly, I think we can beat ’em and I’m looking forward to playing them,” Buss said. “So some of it was kind of an excitement, saying, ‘Oh boy, here’s a team that everybody put together. This is our next big opponent.'”
But don’t reserve L.A. and Miami hotel rooms in June just yet. Buss expects Boston and Orlando to have plenty to say in the Eastern Conference.
“I don’t think it’s automatic that Miami will be our biggest opponent come the end,” he said, “but on the other hand, I must admit they have the world’s attention and that means we’re going to be on center stage when we get a chance to play ’em.”