Kobe Bryant’s Speech during Dr. Jerry Buss’ Memorial Service: “As a kid growing up, being a die hard Laker fan, and watching championship after championship, you don’t understand the business aspect that goes into that. The decision making that goes into that. Putting together the roster. Hiring the right personnel in the front office that can make key decisions. You don’t understand all that.
Once I became a pro and I came to this organization, I remember Dr. Jerry Buss, he told me, he said “I want you to be a Laker for life.” At the time, I’m 17, a stubborn, think-I-know-it-all kid, and the trust that he had in me to deliver for this franchise, and all the history that this franchise had, made me want to go the extra mile for him. Made me want to believe in him.
(In his comments earlier) Mr. Phil Jackson talked about the summer of ‘08, where I was demanding a trade. But the biggest summer to me was the summer when we were looking for a head coach (before the 2005-06 season).
Now keep in mind, I’m not the most patient individual in the world. He sits me down and says, “You know, what do you think about bringing Phil Jackson back to coach you again?”
(Kobe pauses, mimicking his reaction. A little cringe, a wrinkle of the face, uncomfortable bobbing back and forth. The crowd reacted with laughter. Remember, that wasn’t the best time in the relationship between Jackson and Bryant.)
“Ehhhhh… I don’t know… I don’t really know how I feel about that, Dr. B.”
He just looked at me, and he just said, “Trust me.” And I did. And that has taken us to a whole other level, winning another two championships.
That came from his vision. He knew what he wanted to do, he knew how he wanted to go about it. But he also had this ability to convince you to follow him. That’s what he did for me on that day.
For our current Lakers, we’ve been going through kind of an up-and-down season. I encourage all of you, me included, to just look around the room and look at the greatness of one man’s vision. Look at all the players that are here, the coaches that are here. We all have one thing in common: We all believed in Dr. Jerry Buss.
So for us to look around this room and to understand that we’re playing for something bigger than ourselves, bigger than a single season. We are playing for the memory of a great man, which is Dr. Jerry Buss.