In the third episode of HBO’s ‘Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty,’ team owner Jerry Buss and the Lakers deal with the fallout of coach Jerry West’s resignation. During their search for a new coach, they zero in on Jerry Tarkanian, the celebrated but controversial college basketball coach. However, the deal eventually fell through because of what happened to Tarkanian’s close friend, Vic Weiss, who was also negotiating his contract. So, let’s find out what happened to Vic then, shall we?
How Did Vic Weiss Die?
Victor Weiss grew up in Pasadena, California, and went to the same high school as Tarkanian. They became good friends, and he handled the coach’s negotiations as a hobby. Apart from that, Vic saw some success in real estate and insurance, later becoming a sports promoter. On June 14, 1979, Vic had a meeting with Jerry Buss and Jack Kent Cooke regarding Tarkarian coming on as the new coach of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Vic was last seen driving away in his Rolls-Royce from the hotel in Beverly Hills, California, where the meeting happened that day. The 51-year-old was supposed to go out to dinner with his wife, Rose, but he never made it back. Worried, she reported him missing, and on June 17, 1979, a security guard found Vic’s car in the parking lot of a hotel in North Hollywood, California.
Vic was found in the car’s trunk, trussed and covered in a blanket. His body was decomposing, and his hands were tied behind his back. Vic had a gunshot to the rear of his skull and another to his temple, signifying an execution-style murder. Initially, the authorities were puzzled because while Vic’s wallet and briefcase were missing, his diamond ring and watch were still there. Hence, robbery was ruled out as a primary motive.
Who Killed Vic Weiss?
The authorities found no identification on the body; Vic’s identity was confirmed through fingerprints. Furthermore, there were no clues or evidence found in the car that could have led the police to the killer. So, they resorted to looking at Vic’s circle and his past. Soon, a disturbing picture emerged. While Vic was seen in the company of sports personalities and legitimate businessmen in public, his private connections were far from flattering. Vic was known to have some criminal associations.
While Vic was believed to have owned a few car dealerships, it turned out that he was only a paid consultant with no financial interest in the business. The authorities received other tips that mentioned Vic’s connections to mobsters in Nevada and Florida. A friend of Vic’s later spoke to the police on the condition of anonymity. According to him, Vic had more than $60,000 in gambling debt in Las Vegas, Nevada. To make up for it, he was moving laundered money from California to Las Vegas.
However, Vic was also allegedly skimming off the top of the laundered money. The authorities believed that Vic didn’t heed the warning to stop and, as a result, got himself killed. Another witness told the police that on the day Vic disappeared, he pulled over his car somewhere in Encino, California, followed by another vehicle. Vic then had what seemed like a heated conversation with two men who got out of the other car. After that, Vic and the two men got into his Rolls-Royce, with both vehicles driving away.
One of the men was described as tall and blond, but that was as far as the authorities got. At the time, the detectives working on the case were worried information was being leaked and were reluctant to talk to anyone about it. Several potential suspects in the case also turned up dead in unrelated incidents later on. The case has since remained unsolved, but Vic’s connections to the mob became the likely reason why he was killed.
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