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Volume 24 No. 160

People and Pop Culture

Basketball HOFers MAGIC JOHNSON and JERRY WEST, former NBAer and TNT analyst SHAQUILLE O'NEAL and Lakers G KOBE BRYANT were "among the basketball greats gathered Thursday at an invitation-only memorial service to salute the life and legacy" of late Lakers Owner JERRY BUSS, according to Beth Harris of the AP. The stage at the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live was "bedecked with all 10 of the NBA championship trophies won by the Lakers under Buss and more than 30 floral arrangements." Photos of Buss throughout his life "flashed on a video screen." Johnson "punctuated the 1 1/2-hour service by getting the audience on its feet, clapping and cheering for Buss." Johnson said, ''He didn't like it sad, he wanted it to be fun." Among the other speakers were NBA Commissioner DAVID STERN, Basketball HOFer KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, former Lakers coach PHIL JACKSON, Lakers F PAU GASOL (who spoke in Spanish), and Heat President & former Lakers coach PAT RILEY. Lakers Exec VP/Strategic Development JOHNNY BUSS, the oldest of the six Buss children, "spoke on behalf of the family." He said of his father's penchant for wearing jeans cut off at the bottom, "They would fringe and I caught him one time combing the bottom of the fringe." He also "provided insight into life with his father, who loved travel, wine, poker, books, classical music and movies." Buss said of his father, "He never had to step on anyone to get ahead. He surrounded himself with good people." The speeches were "interspersed with performances, including nine members of the USC band playing 'Amazing Grace.'" Singer RANDY NEWMAN whose "iconic 'I Love LA' anthem is played at every Lakers game, sang his hit 'You've Got a Friend in Me.'" DAVIS GAINES performed a song from "Phantom of the Opera" (AP, 2/22).

FATHER FIGURE: Johnson during the memorial said that Buss "was the perfect business mentor." When Johnson tested positive for HIV, Buss was "more of a father figure than ever." Meanwhile, West "recalled one of his first meetings with Buss as a consultant." West said Buss told him, "I want people to come see a winning basketball team but I want entertainment, very much like a Broadway show." West: "Here was a man who not only changed basketball, he changed all sports. He changed them all. He has left a shadow over the entire sports world" (L.A. TIMES, 2/22). O'Neal said, "He was a visionary. He saw the future before any one of us did" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 2/22).

ONE LAST SHOW: In L.A., Bill Plaschke writes it was a "wonderfully quirky memorial service Thursday for the wonderfully quirky Lakers owner." It was "pure Showtime, an entertaining reflection of Buss' 80 years in all their integrity, generosity, competitiveness and craziness." Stern was "properly describing Buss as 'nothing less than a transformational force in the history of sports.'" There was "much talk of Buss' work ethic and his long hours at the office, until West stood up and clarified." West: "Everyone was saying he had to be the first one to work in the morning. He never went to bed, so how in the hell could he not be the first one there in the morning?" Many other speakers "waxed about the beauty of Buss' loyalty." Meanwhile, the biggest long-term challenge for the Lakers "remains in a front office divided." Neither Lakers Exec VP/Business Operations JEANIE BUSS nor Exec VP/Player Personnel JIM BUSS spoke at the service, but there was "one hint of the rumored plan that Jerry Buss had put into place to help the franchise avoid a potential power struggle." Johnny Buss said, "No one can fill his shoes. We can only do our best to continue with our father's request, guided by an intricate road map that he laid out for us for the next generation" (L.A. TIMES, 2/22).'s J.A. Adande wrote the service was "so, so ... Lakers." That is "the only way to describe it." It was "telling that four people with whom Buss had parted ways during his ownership tenure -- Riley, West, Jackson and O’Neal -- felt compelled to come back and pay homage to him." O’Neal’s presence was the "most fascinating, since his breakup was the most acrimonious" (, 2/21).

KEITH GORDON, who holds a high-pressure position as NFL Players Inc. President, spent the majority of the week in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine. He will now fly to his home in Old Town Alexandria, Va., to relish in some family time with his wife, two-year-old daughter MIA and six-year-old son MATTHEW. The three days will be filled with painting, playing Nintendo Wii and delicious -- yet healthy -- cooking.

VAN GOGH IN THE MAKING: I come back from the Combine Friday afternoon and my brother DEREK is actually coming down from New York to spend a night or two with us. So I’ll pick him up from the airport when I come home. Then we’re probably going to take the family out for dinner. I think what we’re going to do during the week is we’re going to clear out a space in the garage so my brother -- he’s an artist of sorts -- he’s going to help the kids paint a wall mural in the garage. My daughter’s inspiration is to get as much paint all over yourself as you can. And my son’s is simply experiment with mixing as many colors and see if every color actually turns brown.

LET'S KICK IT: My son plays indoor soccer currently on Saturday mornings but this weekend is their bye week. So I’m organizing a practice Saturday morning down on the waterfront. I’m sort of an assistant coach, I’m like DC: dad coach. Whenever the coaches are not around, I substitute, fill in and I’ll do a lot of the drills. I usually bring the treats at the end of the game. I consider myself the trainer. I’m sort of a closet cook, so last week I brought mini muffins. With kids, especially young kids, I’m always sort of sensitive to the amount of junk that they have. We brought mini muffins, healthy banana muffins, sugar-free juice for them to drink, as opposed to bags of potato chips and Gatorade.

SOME LIKE IT HOT: When I was younger I used to work all of my summers in Nantucket as a sauté cook. I used to work at a place called Vincent’s on Main Street. I worked as a cook a lot because I really love being around food, but I knew that I could never stand to be around food as a job. It was just too hard, too long and I think the constant smell of garlic and onions on you was always a repellent for any girl. My signature dish these days is white bean and chicken chili. It’s healthy, I make it for all the neighbors usually and I make it for the people in the office. It’s got a nice little kick to it, I usually put some habanero peppers inside. Like everything else that is worthy of indulging in, it takes several hours to prepare. But I do it maybe once a month and it’s sort of a rite of passage for the neighborhood dads, they all like to come over and get their helping.

KARATE CHOP: My son and I are also closet “American Ninja Warrior” fans. We’ve never missed an episode. After we go to practice on the weekends, we usually go to the playground and we try to recreate all the “American Ninja Warrior” obstacles. My son is all of 45 pounds, so he can lift himself pretty easily. Of course his dad, it’s a different story. So I try and encourage him and partake when I can. It’s either the playground or sometimes in the living room. Of course, there have been several things that have been damaged because we’ve been going through our obstacle courses.

WATCH OUT WORLD: This last weekend I actually finally broke down and bought a Wii for the family. So there has been a constant Wii competition going on amongst the Gordon family. Literally when my son and daughter are asleep, my wife and I are playing the Wii. Of course, my shoulders, my back, my arm: Everything is sore.

BOOK WORM: When I do travel I like to listen to audio books. Being a cook for as many years as I have been, I like to read some ANTHONY BOURDAIN books, he’s just sort of a funny but graphic type of writer who isn’t afraid to pull punches but also savors life. Sometimes that’s my escape. When I’m taking personal time to do things like reading, I try to go in the complete opposite direction of what I do for a job.

The NBA named Foundation for Newark’s Future President & CEO GREG TAYLOR Senior VP/Player Development, replacing MIKE BANTOM, who became Exec VP/Referee Operations prior to the season (NBA)….The NCAA named Black Coaches & Administrators Exec Dir FLOYD KEITH a consultant to its Office of Inclusion & Leadership Development. Keith had served in his role at the BCA for nearly 12 years. He also will be senior adviser to the DeVos Sports Business Management program at UCF (, 2/21)….Horse racing network TVG Exec VP/TV TONY ALLEVATO “was fired this week” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 2/22)….The Ducks named former Maple Leafs President & GM BRIAN BURKE a part-time pro scout. Burke served as Ducks Exec VP & GM from ’05-08 (Ducks)….The MLB Rangers named former MLBer IVAN RODRIGUEZ Special Assistant to the GM, Instructor & Ambassador (Rangers)….The Orange Bowl Committee named Miami Seaquarium President & GM ANDREW HERTZ President & Chair. Hertz succeeds O. FORD GIBSON (, 2/15)….Washington State Univ. IMG Sports Marketing named MATT ALMOND GM. Almond spent the last four years as IMG Senior Account Exec & Associate GM for Cougar Athletics (WSU).

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Former Duke Univ. Trustee ROY BOSTOCK and wife MERILEE will give $5M to the Duke athletics department. Their gift is in support of the department's Building Champions fundraising effort, in which the goal is to raise $250M to support annual needs, upgrade facilities and endow scholarships and programs. The Bostock gift is the third commitment of $5M or more in the past five months (Duke).

COLLEGE DAYS: Arizona State Univ. recently took legal action against adult website, believing that it is “illegally using the name.” The school is arguing that the website "has to stop using” the term Sun Devil. But a website spokesperson said that the site “isn’t doing anything different from lots of other legitimate businesses that use ‘Sun Devil’ in a title or name” (, 2/20)….Former Ohio State Univ. AD and Yankees President RICK BAY has written a book titled "From the Buckeyes to the Bronx." A lot of the book “reads like ancient history, but that makes it no less fascinating.” It is a “privileged peek at some of the lunacy and arrogance" at OSU (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 2/22)….In Arizona, Greg Hansen profiles Golf Channel President MIKE MCCARLEY and his “winged rise through the ranks, from unpaid volunteer” in the Univ. of Arizona’s sports information office “to command of the vast NBC/Golf Channel division.” NBC Sports Golf Producer TOMMY ROY said, “Mike’s been good for us” (ARIZONA DAILY STAR, 2/22).

NAMES: WE tv has ordered a docu-series entitled “Glam & Gold” about Gold Medal-winning U.S. sprinter SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS and her husband, Jaguars CB AARON ROSS. Production has begun and the first of six one-hour episodes will premiere this summer (, 2/21)….Basketball HOFer and TNT analyst CHARLES BARKLEY this week appeared on “The Price is Right” as part of “Celebrity Charity Week,” and won more than $67,000 on behalf of homeless children at Sacramento’s Mustard Seed School (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/22)….Former WNBA President DONNA ORENDER’s college basketball career is “being cited as part of the NCAA Division II’s 40th anniversary” (, 2/21)….Retired swimmer MICHAEL PHELPS yesterday took batting practice with the Orioles and had “varying degrees of success.” Phelps was in Sarasota, Fla., to film his Golf Channel reality show “The Haney Project” (, 2/21)….Rays 3B EVAN LONGORIA and girlfriend JAIME EDMONDSON welcomed a baby daughter on Wednesday (, 2/21)....SCP Auctions beginning April 10 will offer items from Basketball HOFer JOHN HAVLICEK, Baseball HOFer ROLLIE FINGERS and former MLBers STEVE GARVEY and BRET SABERHAGEN (THE DAILY).