LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A private memorial service for Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss will be held today at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live, with many of the team’s greatest names among the expected speakers.
Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol, Jerry West, Phil Jackson and Pat Riley are expected to speak, along with NBA Commissioner David Stern, according to John Black, the Lakers vice president of public relations.
The USC Marching Band and singers Randy Newman, whose “I Love L.A.” is played after Laker victories at Staples Center, and Davis Gaines will perform, Black said. CBS2 sportscaster Jim Hill will serve as master of ceremonies.
The 3 p.m. service will be for invited guests only and not open to the public, according to the Lakers. But it will be televised by several outlets, including Time Warner Cable SportsNet, the regional sports network that carries most of the Lakers’ games.
Buss, 80, died Monday morning from kidney failure after a long battle with cancer. He is credited with transforming the franchise into the most successful and glamorous team in North American professional sports.
The Lakers paid tribute to Buss before Wednesday night’s game at Staples Center, their first following his death. A two-minute video of pictures of Buss from his childhood to throughout the more than 30 years he owned the team was shown on the arena’s video board, accompanied by the Green Day song “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life”).”
Bryant then spoke, telling the capacity crowd of 18,997, “On Monday we lost what we all know to be the greatest owner in sports, ever.
“He was a brilliant and incredible owner, but he was an even better person with a great heart.
“His vision has transcended the game and we are all, all, spoiled by his vision and by his drive to win year after year after year.
“Through our years being here at Staples Center, the one thing that we could always count on was the great Dr. Jerry Buss overlooking his franchise from his box. I’d like to ask all of you to please join us in a moment of silence to honor the great Dr. Jerry Buss.”
Buss’ empty seat in his suite was then showed on the video board, followed by a recording of Buss saying, “The real purpose of what I do was to try to have this city totally involved and identified with it. I wanted that, when you think L.A., ‘Oh, wait, that’s where the Lakers play. Lakers. Lakers.’ That’s what I wanted.”
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