All the big shots were there, the Lakers, Phil & Jeanie, Jerry West, Magic, Kareem, and even Kobe went all out to be there for the unveiling of Jerry Buss’ long overdue star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Monday.
Then, in the ultimate tribute to the man who understood better than anyone that “Showtime” belonged here in the entertainment capital, Paris Hilton arrived -- followed by Snoop Dogg.
It’s Hollywood, baby, and the Great Western Forum and Staples Center became homes to the stars, on and off the court, because of Buss, who was being honored for putting the Lakers on TV with the creation of Prime Ticket.
“You know who made this happen?” said Johnny Grant, the honorary mayor of Hollywood and the master of ceremonies for Monday’s first-rate fanfare. “Jeanie Buss. She’s the one who got this done.”
If only she was so persuasive when it came to Phil....
JEANIE BROUGHT tears to her dad’s eyes with a speech expressing her admiration for him, and then Tom Arnold did the same, commending Buss for the extreme care he has shown over the years for young women ages 19-25, putting them through school, he said, “and minor surgeries.”
Magic spoke, left his notes behind on the podium, and Grant took them and said he’d have them on EBay later in the day. I don’t think he was joking.
Meanwhile, I had my eye on the celebrities, a little surprised that Paula Abdul was showing more cleavage than Jerry, who had foregone the traditional unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt for a purple-and-gold sweater.
I also watched Paris give Coach Jackson a lesson on boxing out as they stood behind the stage, Paris showing tremendous moves, getting inside position on Jackson to put herself directly in line with the cameras.
She also managed to cozy up alongside Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, first giving him a kiss and then, I presume, telling him what her major would’ve been had she gone to college.
A fan, with enough pull with the team to be wearing a pair of Lakers championship rings, took one off and reached across Paris to hand it to the mayor. The mayor then took Paris’ hand and began to put the ring on her finger, but you can imagine how nervous that made her.
IT WAS Showtime when Buss arrived. He brought up the end of a parade featuring the USC marching band and the Laker Girls. Grant said he thought Paris would look great dressed as one of the Laker Girls. He mentioned it again later in the program, and that’s the thing about Hollywood, sometimes fantasies do come true.
Hundreds of Lakers fans also turned out for the ceremony, chanting, “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe,” which tells me “Tanker, Tanker, Tanker” just hasn’t caught on yet.
Abdul spoke, but I can’t remember anything she said, and then Jackson took the stage and said he came back to coach because of the Buss family, adding, “But I won’t tell you which part of the family.”
Then it was time for Buss to address those gathered to admire him, and he said this was one honor he cherished above most others -- because of his love for the city and now his place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“I didn’t think it was the right thing to do when he put home games on TV,” Jeanie said, remembering back to 1985 when Jerry started Prime Ticket, which is now FSN West. “But my dad had vision, and he said he was going to increase the Laker audience 10 times over, allowing all Laker fans to have a front-row seat.”
It’s great, all right, that they found a technical reason to honor Buss. But while there are already more than 2,000 stars along the Walk of Fame, it’s a small list that could rival the wonderful entertainment that Buss has consistently ordered up for the folks who live in this area. The best sports owner L.A. has known.
Now I know what you’re thinking, but I checked. Yes, Jim Gray’s star is only a few feet away, but between Gray and Buss there’s a star for the babes of Destiny’s Child, so you can understand why Buss has no complaints.
NFL COMMISSIONER Roger Goodell joined the father/daughter gabfest on 570 with Uncle Fred on Monday and talked about his good relationship with Mayor Villaraigosa as it relates to the return of the NFL to L.A.
We invited the mayor to respond today, but we were told he’d be on the phone until the end of the show talking to foreign ministers, or anybody else, I would guess, interested in hearing how it went with Paris Hilton.
JACKSON WILL appear this morning, and it should be a regular love fest.
Awhile back I bought a “perspective” necklace for more than $100 so I could be just like Phil, and when I noticed he was wearing one of his energy necklaces at the Buss ceremony, I asked what it was.
“It’s to ward off evil spirits such as yourself,” Jackson said, and it should be a lot of fun -- starting the day on the radio together, then meeting at Staples for his pregame briefing, before finishing the night at his postgame news conference. I’ll probably be too busy writing, though, to catch a late-night drink or maybe breakfast at the Pantry -- if he has that in mind too.
TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Hugh Taylor:
“You are a sadist, not a satirist, and thus you do not belong in the ‘fun and games’ section of the newspaper. The great Jim Murray wrote many of his columns in ‘tongue-in-cheek’ fashion, but he was a class act. You are not. ... I must say the way you treat athletes is not only impolite, it is basically evil (e.g. F.P. Santangelo).”
And here I was, thinking of dressing up as F.P. -- although F.P. with a bat in his hands wouldn’t scare anyone.