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David Stern offers a wonderfully insightful anecdote about Dr. Buss during Thursday's memorial service.
The Nokia Theater played host Thursday to a very moving memorial for Dr. Jerry Buss. Several Lakers past and present were in attendance, and the afternoon featured many nice speeches. In particular, I really enjoyed the thoughts shared by Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Shaquille O'Neal.
However, my favorite anecdote was shared by, of all people, NBA commissioner David Stern, who also gave a terrific speech. He praised Buss' vision, business acumen, and his unfailing inclination to put the league first while working with the Board of Governors, even when their decisions might work against the Lakers' financial interests.
Stern also shared an insightful memory about Buss, The Forum and its high profile patrons. Obviously, the Forum Club's A-List guest list, parties and glitz remain the stuff of legend. But as the Commissioner also recalled, the arena was used by its owner in more substantive ways.
"I've heard the word 'flamboyant' used [to describe Buss], but I experienced Jerry as modest and inquisitive. He used to use The Forum as a kind of salon, where he would tell us that he invited authors whose works he admired so he could ask them questions that he sought answers to.
"He was trading tickets for knowledge. We loved it and he thought it was great."
To me, this story doesn't simply speak to Buss' insatiable quest for information, but his happy acknowledgement that others sometimes knew more than him. Rather than grow defensive about this, as people of his exceptional intelligence and vision are often prone to become, Buss instead embraced this reality, then exploited his ability to extract insight.
That Buss conducted himself in such fashion with the Lakers is well known. But the way Stern described Buss, it sounds like this philosophy was a way of life, which goes a long way towards explaining the man he became.