"Kwame Brown lives here," Buss says, shrugging. "Seriously. We used to hang out. We're friends."
When is the last time an owner admitted that his team makes him cry?
"It's a tearful experience sometimes," he says.
His team can also make him so mad, he will storm out of his box in silence.
"I'll say, 'I'm sorry, I'm just so angry now, I can't talk,' " he says.
Jerry Buss doesn't own the Lakers, he lives them, from filling the front office with his family to filling some of his players with unabashed love. Maybe this is one of his secrets? The team isn't run by him, it is him?
"I love Kobe Bryant," he says.
"No, I love him," he says. "The way Kobe plays now, he's at a level I've never seen before. I've never seen anything as obvious and succinct as what Kobe is doing right now. Knowing what he should do, then being able to perform it, it is a miracle."
He should win MVP, sure, but didn't he rip you last summer, then pout during training camp when you talked about possibly trading him?
"I talked to Kobe, he's called me, we're fine," Buss says, then adds that he hopes Bryant will stay a Laker forever. "I certainly hope so. My guess would be yes. But, you know, sometimes when you want something so badly, it's hard to divorce your wishing from reality."
The reality is that Buss truly tried to honor Bryant's trade request this summer, but never came close to finding equal value.
"I promised Kobe that if I could get the right material, that I had respect enough for his desire that I would pursue a trade," he says. "But I didn't see that there was enough talent there, so we didn't do it. I was wishing he understood how difficult these things are, but I do love him."
There are some who think the Lakers traded for Gasol only to placate Bryant. Buss shakes his head at what could clearly be seen as an insult after all those years when he found great players without prodding.
"I'm glad Kobe likes the deal, but that's not why we made it," he says. "We always try to get the best players. We always have."
Buss believes in General Manager Mitch Kupchak as much as he believes in Bryant.
"I spend a lot of time making sure I have the best people around me, and I think I do," he says.
Kupchak, roundly ripped the last few years by most, always supported by Buss, and who's looking smart now?
"Mitch spent so much time learning from Jerry West, essentially it's like I'm still dealing with Jerry," Buss says. "I think Mitch is the most gifted general manager in the sport right now."
Lakers' Buss knows when to hold 'em
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