Lakers hope to honor departed owner Jerry Buss with victories
El Segundo, CA, United States (4E Sports) – Before Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr.Jerry Buss is laid to rest, the team will play a game against the Boston Celtics Wednesday.
“Just stay focused on the moment, have a good practice today and come out [Wednesday] night ready to put on a good show in his honor,” Kobe Bryant said, planning an appropriate tribute to Buss, who died Monday at the age of 80.
Under Buss, the Lakers met the Celtics in the Finals five times, winning three times. The Lakers will debut commemorative purple-and-gold “JB” patches on their uniforms fittingly against Boston, and wear them for the rest of the season in remembrance of Buss.
Bryant remembers Buss as one who believed in him from day one as a 17-year-old kid and his profound impact on his career and has winning another ring for Buss on his mind.
“It’s part of the reason why I try to drive so hard,” Bryant said. “When we talked, we talked about getting another championship and trying to put the [Boston] Celtics in the rearview mirror. That’s something that was driving him and that’s something that continues to drive me.”
The Celtics have 17 championships, ahead of the Lakers’ 16.
The Lakers look to Buss’ children–vice president of player personnel Jim Buss and vice president of business operations Jeanie Buss — to take up the torch from their father.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said there could have been a subconscious effort on Jim Buss’ part to pursue the Howard and Steve Nash deals in the offseason in hopes of capturing one last championship while his father was still alive.
He said Buss was very much involved in the decision to hire Mike D’Antoni after Mike Brown was fired just five games into the season. However, the owner’s health was so bad by that point that D’Antoni never met Buss in person.
The Lakers announced that a private memorial service will be held for Buss on Thursday at 3 p.m. PT at Nokia Theatre. The service will not be open to the public; however, it will be aired live on the team’s television station, Time Warner Cable SportsNet.
Countless fans have already flocked to show their support by leaving flowers and mementos by the Lakers statues in front of Staples Center. At L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles, well-wishers have been writing messages on a giant white banner that features a picture of Buss in the middle of it.