Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 2/21/13
Celebs-out-the-town
LOS ANGELES A whos-who of Lakers and NBA legends showed up Thursday to celebratethe life of Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, who died Monday after an 18-monthcancer ordeal.Many former Lakers showed up at the Nokia Theatre across thestreet from Staples Center in downtown LA to pay tribute to Buss, who was 80years old. Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Shaquille ONeal, KareemAbdul-Jabbar, Pat Riley, Bill Sharman, Byron Scott, Mychal Thompson, CedricCeballos and Magic Johnson were some of the former Lakers in attendance. Theywere joined by the entire current Lakers team, led by captains Kobe Bryant andPau Gasol, both of whom spoke at the memorial Gasol in Spanish. NBAcommissioner David Stern, Phil Jackson and Bill Walton also were at theservice.This is a celebration of life and a celebration ofsuccess, Magic told an audience of approximately 4,000. Magic said heconsidered Buss to be a second father to me from the time I came here fromMichigan. He was a great man and a great father, Magic added. Healso left an unbelievable legacy of 10 championships for the city of LosAngeles in 30-plus years of excellence.Stern credited Buss for turning around the financiallystruggling NBA when he joined the league and presented his novel approach tomarketing the game. Its no exaggeration to say that Jerry Buss was atransformational force in the history of sports, the commissioner said.Creating the value proposition through (ticket) pricing, TV rights, namingrights and entertainment, which underlie all arena and stadium constructionaround the world.Buss a chemistry professor at USC who along with partnerFrank Mariani parlayed a 1,000 real estate investment into hundreds ofmillions of dollars bought the Lakers as part of a package from Jack KentCooke in 1979 for a then-sports transaction record of 67.5 million. Cooke hadto sell the Lakers, Kings, The Forum and a large ranch in order to finance asettlement after divorcing his wife Barbara. (The 49 million he paid her also wasa world record at the time).Buss later sold the Kings, The Forum and the RalJon ranch,but even through some tough financial times early in his Lakers tenure, hewould never give up controlling interest in the team that he loved.He treated the players not as employees, but as familymembers, offering them financial advice, and counseling about their personallives if they requested it.He was like a second dad to all of us (Lakers), Magic said.The team repaid that love by reaching the Finals 16 timesand winning 10 NBA titles in 33 years, helping Buss build an empire worth overa billion dollars at the time of his death. The basketball operations will continue to be run by hisson, VP of player personnel Jim Buss and current Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak, whiledaughter Jeanie will still handle the financial side of the team as VP of business.Jeanie has also been designated as governor representing the Lakers at allleague meetings.Buss six children were at the memorial, with Johnny, Janie,Jessie and Joey joining Jim and Jeanie. Johnny was the only one who spoke,however, talking about what a fantastic job his father did raising his clan. Healso lightened the mood a bit when he referred to his dad hanging on to make itto Valentines Day, a day that meant a lot to him, Johnny Buss said with asmile, referring to his fathers well-known practice of always having abeautiful, young woman or two on his arm. The other children chose to write short passages in theprogram that was passed out at the memorial. Jim saluted his father for neverbacking down or failing to take a reasonable risk. You did it your way, Jim wrote, and Im so proud of you.Frank Sinatras My Way was the song chosen to end the proceedings.The 2012-13 Lakers began the tribute to Buss with a win Wednesdaynight over the team Buss loved to beat more than any other the BostonCeltics. Afterwards, Dwight Howard said the team needed to fight back from allthe season-long adversity to make the playoffs and get it done for Dr. Buss.Nothing would have made the good doctor happier.
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