Phil Jackson

Address at the Memorial for Jerry Buss

delivered 21 February 2013, Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles, California


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

They say first impressions are the most lasting ones.

My first meeting with Dr. Buss was after I'd been introduced to the L.A. community and the press. Jerry West drove me to his house -- He didn't talk quite as long as he just did now -- but Jerry Buss came downstairs in his jeans of course -- the cutoff jeans we've talked about -- his running shores, and an open-necked shirt. In our conversations he told me how much fun he'd had in the 80s, winning five championships. He said it seemed like almost a natural thing.

But then the 90s came and it was filled with change and disappointments. He said he was hoping to win one more championship. I told him I thought he had a talented enough team to win more than one, and I was going to accomplish that. We were able to do that and win five championships, just like that team did in the 80s, and it brought Jerry great joy.

However, nothing can be done well that doesn't cross some difficulties in it. And you remember that summer of 2008, when Kobe Bryant would run out of patience, desperately wanted to be traded to a team that could win a championship again. During that fall when things got a little bit testy we had many meetings, and Dr. Buss patiently listened to the demands of Kobe and his agent, Rob Pelinka.

During one of those meetings, Dr. Buss said to Kobe, "If I had a diamond of great value, 4 or 5 karats, would I give up that diamond for 4 diamonds of 1 karat? No. There's no equal value that we can get for you. A trade would not match what you bring to this team." He prevailed, and we won two more championships.

There's a quote -- There's a quote that I have above my desk. It reads:

Unceasing change turns the [wheel] of life, [and] so reality is shown in all its many forms. Dwell peacefully as change itself liberates all [suffering] sentient beings and brings them great joy.1

The loss of Dr. Buss has shown us one of the forms of life.

We are here to reach -- to receive and recognize that unceasing change and to express our loss, but also to celebrate a life that was a diamond of great value.

1 Buddhist sutra

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Page Updated: 1/17/21

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