Arcadia jeweler cuffs Phil Jackson

I’ve often said that one of the perks of being a sportswriter in Los Angeles – 8½ years at the old Herald Examiner, 30-plus at the Times – was getting to meet interesting people.

Larry Stewart

Larry Stewart

One of my all-time favorites is Jeanie Buss, and not just because she is strikingly beautiful or because her father owns the Lakers or, more recently, that her boyfriend is Phil Jackson, the Lakers’ coach.
Mainly it is because she is simply one of the nicest, sweetest people you’d ever want to meet. (Yes, Phil Jackson is a lucky man.)

I first met Jeanie in 1980, I believe, when she gave me and a few other media members a tour of her father’s house at the time, the Pickfair mansion in Beverly Hills. Over the years, she has always been kind, friendly and courteous to me, but I suspect she treats everyone that way.

Anyway, to get to my story.
Almost since moving to Arcadia in 1978, at least since the early 1980s, I have usually gone to Prince Jewelers on Huntington Avenue whenever it is time to get my wife Norma a gift – be it Christmas, her birthday or Mother’s Day.

Arcadia jeweler Lam and Jeanie Buss of Lakers

Arcadia's Prince Original Designs jeweler Si "Lam" Huynh and Jeanie Buss of Lakers.

During that time I befriended the owner, who until recently I only knew as Lam. That’s what everyone calls him. His real name is Si Huynh, and he came to the United States from Viet Nam in 1979.

After the Lakers won another NBA championship under Jackson last spring, Lam, knowing I had been a sportswriter, asked me if I knew the coach. I told Lam I knew him a little but knew Jeanie better.
Cufflinks1Lam explained he would like to make a pair of cufflinks for Jackson and give them to him as a gift – a special thank you for what he had done for his and his teenage son Jordan’s favorite team. He wondered if I would help him get in touch with Jackson.

Cufflinks2At the time, I discouraged Lam, telling him that Jackson probably gets lots of gifts, and that maybe he doesn’t even use cufflinks. But Lam went ahead with his plan, and a couple of months later e-mailed a picture of the cufflinks. Each one features the Roman number X (representing Jackson’s record 10 NBA championships), and engraved on the sides are Jackson’s name, in tiny letters, and the Lakers’ title years.

I forwarded the photo to Jeanie and explained where they came from, not knowing what her reaction would be. She e-mailed back saying she loved the cufflinks and that Phil, who was in Montana at the time, would too.
She wanted to buy them, but Lam said to tell her they were a gift. She later suggested that I invite Lam to a game once the season started so that he could present the cufflinks to Jackson personally. She later e-mailed to remind me about her invitation and sent along some possible dates.

Lam shows Lakers coach Phil Jackson his ring gifts

Lam shows Lakers coach Phil Jackson his cufflink gifts.

The game we picked was played Nov. 8 against the New Orleans Hornets. Since Jeanie provided us with four center-court, third-row seats, my wife and Lam’s son, a junior at Arcadia High, also got to go. The all-important cufflinks presentation came before a pregame dinner where we were Jeanie’s guests in the Arena Club at Staples Center. Jeanie had arranged for us to meet with Jackson in a small private room.

When Jackson entered the room, Lam was almost bursting with excitement. And Jackson couldn’t help but smile when he saw the cufflinks.

CuffLamPendant

Copyright 2009-Prince Jewelers

Then Lam had a surprise for Jeanie. He gave her a specially made pendant (picture at right) that featured five purple stones surrounding a yellow diamond-studded gold basketball, all inside a gold circle representing a basketball rim. He called it the “Lakers Dynasty Pendant.”.

Jeanie was overwhelmed. “I love it,” she said after Lam attached it around her neck.

(l-r) Jackson, Lam, Jeanie Buss

(l-r) Jackson, Lam, Jeanie Buss

Lam said, “It looks perfect on you. This is one of the best pieces of jewelry I have ever made.” He explained the five purple stones could represent five players on the court or the five championships the Lakers have won under Jackson and the yellow basketball could represent anything she wanted it to – her father, her boyfriend, whatever.

“You are a genius,” Jeanie told Lam.
Now it was his turn to smile.

And the two pieces of jewelry seemed to work as good-luck charms. The Lakers ended up dominating the Hornets that night in impressive fashion, 104-88.

Comments

  1. Sandra Cramer says

    Congratulations Lam!!!!! I love this story and our community is so fortunate and blessed to have Prince Jewelry (Artist/Owner: Lam) in the Arcadia/San Gabriel Valley! Lam, is very talented and I saw this beautiful pendant (“Laker Dynasty Pendant”)… It is absolutely stunning!!!! and Phil Jackson’s cuff links are one of a kind – beautiful!!! Lam is truly a “Genius.” keep designing ;-) Can’t wait to see your Holiday Jewel Collection!

  2. Vince Foley says

    Way to go, Lam. Now I can say that Phil Jackson, Jeannie Buss and I have the same jewelry designer! I think I just moved up in class!!

  3. arnel says

    great article..but lakers have only won 4 ‘ships unfer jackson not 5 so thats all u got wrong..unless he was tryin to predict the future of jackson gettin his 5th with us this year…hell yea babyyyyy

  4. Rosalie Juchli says

    10 years ago I was looking for a Jewelry Store like the one I had in Northern California, and I found Prince Jewelers. When I first walked in I was greeted by Lam and his beautiful wife, the atmosphere was very warm,friendly and very personable. Lam is a true artist in every sense of the word. I have never been dissapointed in anything I have purchased at Prince Jewelers, along with his wife and his artisans, make this one of the best if not the best Jewelry store in Southern California.
    Thank you all for creating the most beautiful jewelry I have ever worn !
    Rosalie