“He just looked at me and said, `Trust me,’ and I did and that took us to another level winning two championships,” he said. “He had this ability to convince you to follow him.”
West first met Buss in 1979, having already worked for two previous owners of the Lakers, including Jack Kent Cooke, who sold the team to Buss. West had to get used to Buss‘ lust for life that included hard work and heartier partying.
He recalled one celebration in which Buss had forgotten his credit card and asked West to pick up a tab that included $8,000 for champagne alone. Another time he was out with Buss and work ethic was being discussed.
“He never went to bed so how the hell could he not be the first one to work?” West said.
“They would fringe and I caught him one time combing the bottom of the fringe,” he said, suggesting that on every Jan. 27 _ his father’s birthday _ people don jeans with the bottom cut off in Jerry’s honor.
The younger Buss provided insight into life with his father, who loved travel, wine, poker, books, classical music and movies. He called him “a man who would take us on an incredible journey that no one could ever imagine.”
“Not everything went right but because he was always thinking ahead, everything became right,” Johnny Buss said. “He never had to step on anyone to get ahead. He surrounded himself with good people. He loved L.A. and as we can see L.A. loved him, too.”
The audience included the current Lakers team, Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Bill Walton, former Lakers coach Rudy Tomjanovich, former Lakers Byron Scott, A.C. Green and Cedric Ceballos, retired Los Angeles Sparks star Lisa Leslie, former Southern California athletic director Mike Garrett, longtime Lakers fan Dyan Cannon, and Los Angeles Kings broadcasters Bob Miller and Jim Fox.
The speeches were interspersed with performances, including nine members of the USC band playing “Amazing Grace.” Randy Newman, whose iconic “I Love LA” anthem is played at every Lakers game, sang his hit “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from the movie “Toy Story.” Davis Gaines sang a number from “Phantom of the Opera.”View Entire Story
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