Category: Sports / February 22, 2013 11:21 AM EST
At a memorial attended by family, players and fans, Lakers owner Jerry Buss was hailed on Thursday as a visionary who changed the nature of sports ownership in the NBA and beyond.
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.
Current and former Laker greats such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant were among those speaking at the afternoon service.
"When he went to the gates and God met him, I know he said, 'I hope you have a basketball league up here' and I know he said that, 'Wilt you are coming on my team' and he already hit Chick Hearns saying, 'You are going to be my announcer,' again we are together. But the one thing he better not do is get a point guard, because I am going to see him one day soon," said former Lakers great Magic Johnson.
Former Laker coaches Phil Jackson also addressed the crowd.
"The loss of Dr. Buss has shown us one of the forms of life," said Jackson. "We are here to receive and recognize that unceasing change and to express our loss, but also to celebrate a life. It was a diamond of great value."
Current Lakers star Kobe Bryant also remembered Buss.
"I encourage all of you, me included, to look around the room and see the greatness of one man's vision," said Bryant. "Look at all the players that are here, coaches that are here. We all have one thing in common, in that we all believed in Dr. Jerry Buss. So for us to look around this room and understand that we are playing for something bigger than ourselves and bigger than a single season. We are playing for the memory of a great man and that is Dr. Jerry Buss."
The late owner bought the Lakers in 1979 and under his ownership they became the second most valuable professional basketball team behind the New York Knicks, worth an estimated $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
Video Source: Reuters