Back-to-Back NBA Champions Officially Welcomed to ‘Lakersfield’
Bakersfield, CA, September 17, 2010 – As the limousines pulled up to the Jam Events Center, a massive American flag flew over head. It was the perfect image of two cities, seemingly worlds apart, now affiliated with one another.
As Jeanie and Joey Buss stepped onto the “Laker blue” carpet and made their way into the state-of-the-art facility, the era of Los Angeles Showtime and Bakersfield’s legendary hospitality began in earnest.
The NBA Development League’s trend-setting and visionary Bakersfield Jam welcomed the scions of Lakers owner, Dr. Jerry Buss with a vintage down-home barbeque and dance, as well as an auction of NBA events and travel excursions to benefit the Jam Education Foundation.
Jam majority owner Stan Ellis and his band Stampede performed for the excited and generous guest list of season ticket holders and corporate sponsors. Bakersfield’s Mayor Hall presented the Buss family with the official key to the city, and Ellis presented them with autographed, Buck Owens guitars.
The highlight of the evening was twofold: the guests were able to take photographs with the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship trophy, as well as being treated to a surprise visit from Lakers post-season hero, Ron Artest. Artest warmly engaged the audience with a genuine and heartfelt thanks to the Buss family and the Lakers organization for the opportunity to become an NBA champion.
When asked of the business venture with the Jam, Jeanie Buss attributed the success of the partnership exclusively to Ellis and Jam Managing Partner, David Higdon. “I’ve been involved with business associates from around the world, and I can honestly tell you that I’ve never met anyone like Stan Ellis. Together, he and David have impressed us beyond belief.”
The evening had all the flair of a Lakers game, but with the personal touch that moved Buss to mention to the audience, “This feeling of family and closeness that the Jam have with their community is exactly how we feel about our team and our city.”
Jam head coach, Will Voigt addressed the packed house with a poignant tribute to Jam ownership by saying, “Look around you…at this beautiful facility, the great fan experience that you enjoy here – this is exactly why the Lakers, the gold standard-bearer of professional sports wants to be involved with Bakersfield.”
As the evening was winding down, the Buss siblings posed for endless photos with the trophy, soaking up the glow and nostalgia of ‘Lakersfield’. Not a single person in the building doubted the possibility of a back-to-back-to-back NBA championship for the LA squad.
Now the work begins.