BILL PLASCHKE

Lakers' Buss knows when to hold 'em

The city feels this. The Lakers have become as big as the Dodgers in the Latino community. And Buss said one of his greatest honors was being told that he could knock on any door in south Los Angeles and be invited for dinner.

"Los Angeles is about diversity, and so are the Lakers," he says.

He has done much for this city, yet he is a guy who doesn't want to be remembered with a statue or a name on a court.

"My name is on my children, that's enough for me," he says.

He's a guy who wants people to understand that he knows exactly who he is.

"I'm the luckiest guy I ever met," he says. "I have the best job in the world. I'm very, very fortunate. I'm just happy running the Lakers."

Buss drops his fork into his takeout pasta and smiles and remembers.

"Right after I bought the team, I used to go into this little lounge in Santa Monica. The owner was also musical director for MGM, and they used to perform musicals there late at night, it was just fantastic," he says. "Just before they would start, everyone would start shouting, 'Showtime! Showtime!' I remember thinking, this is how I wanted people to feel about their team."

Their team. Our team.

For 29 years, the best owner in professional sports history hasn't really owned, he has shared, turning a team into a fabric, a city into a neighborhood, conflicting hopes into a singular dream, everyone huddled against the oncoming light shouting, "Showtime! Showtime!"

Bill Plaschke can be reached at bill.plaschke@latimes.com. To read previous columns by Plaschke, go to latimes.com/plaschke

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