Lakers owner Jerry Buss received a star Monday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, being honored in the television category for co-founding the Prime Ticket regional cable sports channel in 1985.
“It is difficult to express my feelings,” a choked-up Buss told a crowd of about 1,000 that included athletes, entertainment figures and local politicians. “I love Los Angeles and when I go out of town and come back and step off the plane, I kiss the ground.
“If there’s a single way the city could tell me I’ve been successful, it would be to give me a star in Hollywood.”
The 73-year-old Buss, honored with the Walk of Fame’s 2,323rd star, co-founded Prime Ticket with the late cable pioneer Bill Daniels. The station televised Lakers home games and other local sports events.
The Lakers have won eight NBA championships since Buss bought them from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the Lakers’ worldwide reputation of excellence and success demonstrated itself during his recent trade mission to China, Japan and South Korea, where officials he met with said the gift they wanted most was a Lakers T-shirt.
Magic Johnson, one of the Lakers’ greatest stars and now a minority owner of the team and successful businessman, said Buss was ahead of his time.
“He understood entertainment value,” Johnson said. “He understood history, how to bring the best basketball players together as well as the best management team. He said he was going to change the way basketball was viewed and the way people came to the games and he did just that.”
The ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard drew several current and former Lakers including Abdul-Jabbar and Memphis Grizzlies executive Jerry West. Others in attendance were Hall of Famer Bill Sharman, a former Lakers coach and executive; Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Bratton; singer Paula Abdul, a former Laker Girl, rapper-actor Snoop Dogg; heiress turned actress and singer Paris Hilton, and baseball Hall of Famer Dave Winfield.