When Jerry Buss died, Angelenos lost the innovative Lakers owner who gave them Showtime, Lakers girls and championships. They lost a philanthropist, poker player and visionary.
Magic Johnson lost a father figure.
To Johnson, Buss wasn't just a boss, friend and business mentor, even though he was all of those things.
Buss was someone who put his trust in Magic's smile.
Johnson recalled how he knew Buss would always be there for him in the moment he told the world stunning news in 1991.
"When I announced I had HIV, we cried for hours," Johnson said "He was thinking he would lose an adopted son. He picked up the phone and started calling hospitals to make sure I had the best health care and best doctors possible.
"He'd ask, `You OK? You taking your meds?' That's when I knew this man loved me and cared about me outside winning championships and outside making no-look passes. That's who Jerry Buss was."
On Thursday, Buss' life was celebrated in a memorial at the Nokia Theatre. Buss died Monday morning of kidney failure after a battle with cancer.
It was appropriate Buss be remembered at L.A. Live, a bustling place built across from Staples Center after the arena transformed a once-downtrodden downtown area.
This is the place Buss built.
Hundreds of friends, basketball greats, owners, former players, National Basketball Association Commissioner David Stern, former Lakes coach Phil Jackson, Dodgers President Stan Kasten, former WNBA great Lisa Leslie, and family gathered to remembered the man behind the legend of greatest owner in sports history.
Johnson was the last speaker. Always the best for last.
He started by saying Buss would've loved Wednesday's Lakers win over the Boston Celtics. He ended by asking that all the Lakers greats, past and present, including Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, stand and be recognized. Their lives were all touched by Buss.
Bryant had a wonderful anecdote about when Buss called him in to his office to discuss the possibility of bringing Phil Jackson back, even after Jackson and Bryant had their issues.
"I don't know how I feel about that, Dr. `B,"' Bryant said, grimacing and contorting his body. "He just looked at me and just said, `Trust me,' and I did.
"That has taken us to a whole other level in winning another two championships. That came from his vision. He knew what he wanted to do and how to go about it; He also had that ability to convince you to follow him. That's what he did for me that day."
O'Neal had much love for Buss, too. And, of course, a funny story.
"He gave me everything I wanted," O'Neal said. "I wanted one extension, he gave it to me. I wanted a second extension, he gave it to me. I wanted a third extension, and he traded me."
And then he smiled that big smile of his.
From Jerry West, to Tim Leiweke, the CEO of AEG, Stern and longtime business partner and friend Frank Mariani - who bought a share of Buss' first apartment building in West Los Angeles - so many had great stories to tell.
Johnny Buss, one of Jerry Buss' six children, remembered Jerry for those jeans he cut off at the bottom and his business practices.
"He never had to step over anyone to get ahead," Johnny Buss said. "He surrounded himself with great people. He loved Los Angeles, and Los Angeles loved him."
He loved to party as well, and West remembered how Jerry Buss forgot his credit card one time and asked West to cover for him. West couldn't believe Buss had ordered an $8,000 bottle of champagne.
Stern, who first met Buss in 1979 when he was purchasing the team from Jack Kent Cooke, remembered the intelligent Buss who loved to read. He invited authors to Lakers games.
"He was trading tickets for knowledge," Stern said.
Randy Newman and Davis Gaines performed, and Pau Gasol spoke in Spanish - a tribute he believes Buss would have appreciated for all the Lakers' Spanish-speaking fan base.
And all with the backdrop of those 10 championship trophies Buss engineered.
Before the memorial, Leslie recalled Buss' support.
"When he came to women's basketball, he treated us first class," Leslie said. "I love the fact he was excited to have a WNBA team and really gave me my chance.
Even a man no one knew, Greg Tomlinson, spoke. He wasn't in the program, but he told the Los Angeles Newspaper Group he was asked to speak by his good friend Jim Buss, the executive vice president, on behalf of Lakers fans.
Many criticized his speech and presence as a memorial crasher. He stood out among Lakers greats.
It was more than appropriate to have a common man speak about Jerry Buss, since Buss came from extreme poverty, earned all his successes and made time for common people. Buss wasn't stuffy at all, and you could tell right down to his cut-off jeans.
Buss was a winner.
And Johnson pleaded for the Buss family to continue to take the Lakers where Buss did: "Please Buss family, do not ever sell the Lakers and win more championships."
Just like Dad.