A memorial service is being held this afternoon to honor longtime Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss.
Buss died on Monday from kidney failure after a battle against an undisclosed type of cancer. He was 80.
The service is being held at Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The list of speakers at the service includes Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Phil Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson. The ceremony is for invited guests only, but you can watch it live on KTLA and at KTLA.com. Meantime, the Lakers honored Buss with a tribute before their game against the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at Staples Center.
The tribute began with a video montage showing photos of Buss, spanning from his childhood to his 10 championships with the Lakers. After the video presentation, Kobe Bryant, who has known Buss since he was a teenager, walked to half court and took the microphone.
“On Monday we lost what we all know to be the greatest owner in sports, ever,” Bryant said. “He was a brilliant and incredible owner, but he was an even better person with a great heart,” he remarked.
“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,” Bryant said.
“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.” The jumbotron then showed Buss’ empty seat in his suite. Shortly after that, Buss’ voice echoed through the sold-out arena.
“The real purpose of what I do was to try to have this city totally involved and identified with it,” Buss said. “I wanted that, when you think L.A., ‘Oh, wait, that’s where the Lakers play. Lakers. Lakers.’ That’s what I wanted.”