Jerry Buss may be gone, but Jerry Buss hasn't gone anywhere.
Jerry Buss may have died on Feb. 18 at age 80, but Jerry Buss lives.
When watching the Lakers makes you howl, when watching the NBA makes you smile, when watching anything in professional sports makes you tap your toe, Jerry Buss is there.
"He was nothing less than a transformational force in the history of sports," said NBA Commissioner David Stern at Buss' memorial service.
Forever and ever, amen.
When you are cheering the Laker Girls, you are cheering Jerry Buss. He invented them, he promoted them, he inspired not only their skimpy clothes and gyrating dances but also their community outreach and public service. He made them the centerpiece of his newfangled idea to turn sports into entertainment. And, OK, to be honest, he probably dated a few of them.
When you are walking inside Staples Center, you are walking inside a monument to Jerry Buss. Does anybody really think that real estate billionaire Phil Anschutz would have built this country's most glamorous sports palace without knowing he had a tenant who could come and rock it? Is it any wonder that one of Anschutz's first phone calls was to Buss, who picked up the phone and said, sure, we could always use a bigger dance hall, bring it on! Forget the Kings, forget the Grammy Awards, even forget the Celine Dion concerts, there would be no Staples Center without the powerful attraction of Jerry Buss and his Lakers.