My first encounter with Jerry Buss occurred in his private box high atop the Fabulous Forum during a Lakers game in 1983.
I was a high school senior at the time, and somehow, someway I'd convinced then-Lakers public relations director Josh Rosenfeld that a feature story on Buss, the club's dashing owner, would be the perfect anchor to my high school newspaper's upcoming edition.
Bless his heart, Buss, obliged, welcoming me into his box with a rum and coke in one hand and a gorgeous blonde in the other. I made a curious mental note that she looked a whole lot closer to my age than his, but then reminded myself when you're rich enough to own the World Champion Lakers and the sparkling arena they play in, your rules of engagement are quite a bit different than the typical middle-aged man.
"Have a seat, let's talk," Buss said.
Down below, Magic Johnson was working the Forum into a frenzy, feeding open teammates with no-look passes and grabbing rebounds and dribbling the length of the court for coast-to-coast layups.
It was the apex of the Showtime Era Lakers, a magical run that mesmerized Los Angeles for more than a decade. And the architect of it all, the man who understood star value and the marriage between entertainment and winning like no one before him or since was sitting next to me taking in his wonderful creation.