It is a sad day in the Los Angeles sports world — Lakers owner Jerry Buss has died. Buss died Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he was being treated for cancer. He was 80 years old.
Buss bought the Lakers, along with the Kings, The Forum and other real estate for $67.5 million back in 1979. The Lakers alone are now valued at $1 billion. The Lakers won 10 NBA championships during his time as owner. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Buss was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Wyoming. He moved to Los Angeles in 1955 to attend graduated school at USC and never left. He was a fixture in the city for the past half century, at one point even buying the famous Pickfair Mansion in Beverly Hills from the estate of Mary Pickford. When he bought the Lakers, he said his goal was to make the Lakers synonymous with Los Angeles. He certainly succeeded, overtaking the Dodgers as the city’s number one sports franchise.
Jerry Buss brought “Showtime” to the Lakers and the league, to which Kobe Bryant paid tribute over the weekend at the NBA All-Star game.
“The brand of basketball he implemented in Showtime carried the league when you think about the rivalry that placed between the Lakers and (Boston) Celtics and what that did for the global outreach of the game,” he said. “It reached me in Italy, and I was only 6 years old.”
The Buss family said in a statement:
“We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community…
“It was our father’s often stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family. The Lakers have been our lives as well and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy.”
Jerry Buss had already turned operation of the Lakers over to his children, but he will surely be missed at Staples Center and in Los Angeles.