Lakers give moving tribute to Buss
by David Leon Moore, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES – If the Los Angeles Lakers can continue to be fueled by the overflowing of emotions and loving memories in the aftermath of the death of their beloved owner, maybe this season won’t be a lost cause after all.
After a moving tribute to Dr. Jerry Buss at Staples Center Wednesday night before the Lakers’ first game since his death, the Lakers went out and thrashed the team Buss disliked most – the Boston Celtics.
Thursday, at a memorial service held across the street from Staples at the Nokia Theatre, the emotion continued to pour out as great Lakers past and present, including coaches Phil Jackson and Pat Riley, player/executive Jerry West, Showtime-era Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson and champions of a later era, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, talked about their relationships and experiences with Buss.
They talked of his friendly touch with common folks, his love of blue jeans, his penchant for staying out late (or all night), his uncommon vision, his sharp intellect and his surprising humility.
They talked of how Buss would like nothing more than for the Lakers to continue to win at the astounding level they did under his ownership.
Buss often said he wanted Los Angeles to by synonymous with the Lakers, and the Lakers synonymous with winning.
And so it was, to an astounding degree. In his nearly 34 years as owner, the Lakers had the best record in the league by far, went to the NBA Finals 16 times and won 10 titles.
Buss died Monday at age 80 amid one of the Lakers’ most troubling seasons, a season that was expected to parlay the union of Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash into another Lakers championship.
Instead, the Lakers have struggled to a sub-.500 record and are in danger of missing the playoffs.
They’ll wear “JB” patches on their jerseys the rest of the season. But can they summon the kind of effort they showed … [For more on Lakers and former Lakers give moving tribute to Buss, click here.]