LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — For Dr. Jerry Buss, it was hard to beat watching his Lakers take on the Celtics. Wednesday night at the Staples Center, he would have been proud and honored, not only by the 113-99 victory the Lakers earned over the Celtics, but by the touching tribute given back by the city, and the people who loved him.
Lakers star Kobe Bryant opened the evening with a powerful speech, saluting and applauding Buss. “We are all, all spoiled by his vision,” Kobe stated. “And by his drive to win year after year.”
Among the thousands in attendance, one of the most touched was actress and longtime friend of Buss, Dyan Cannon.
Cannon, who had been a friend of Buss for 30 years, struggled to hold back tears as she spoke of him as an owner and as a friend.
“There wasn’t an owner like him,” Cannon managed. “There wasn’t anyone like him.”
Buss, who died on Monday due to kidney failure as a complication of cancer, used to watch games with Cannon since well before the team took up residence in the Staples Center.
“I knew this man from the beginning,” Cannon suggested. “I used to have dinner with him at the forum all the time. And then we’d go up the back steps and climb way up in the forum to his seats.”
The Lakers pulled ahead early, and never looked back. It was a performance many feel Buss would have cherished, and which Cannon believes he was still a part of.
“I feel his spirit here tonight,” Cannon said. “I felt it the minute I walked in.”
The victory was the perfect tribute to one of the most beloved and successful owners in the history of professional sports. Fans in attendance payed their respects in their own way, by cheering on the Lakers. Among them was Buss’ longtime friend, Cannon.
“I’m celebrating his life. I’m trying not to mourn it.”
There certainly was nothing to mourn about his team’s performance on the court.