Jerry Buss, Lakers Owner, Dies at 80
Jerry Buss, the energetic owner of the Los Angeles Lakers credited with helping revive the NBA, died on Monday. He was 80.
Buss had been undergoing cancer treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for the past 18 months. Yet, the Basketball Hall of Famer’s death was caused by kidney failure, according to Buss’s longtime friend, Bob Steiner at a press conference on Monday.
Well respected across the country, big names in the league had been visiting the ailing owner to pay their respects before his imminent passing. Visitors included the Dallas Mavericks and the Clippers owners, Mark Cuban and Donald Sterling, respectively, among others.
Buss started his career as a chemist before making his fortune in the real estate industry. After accumulating a small fortune by 1979, Buss purchased the Lakers, the L.A. Kings and The Forum arena for a total of $67.5 million. At the time, Buss’s purchase was the largest in sports history.
The players Buss brought on board the L.A. basketball franchise included the big names like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. In his 34 years as owner, the Lakers reached the NBA Finals sixteen times. Between 1980 and 2010, he saw them win ten of those title games.
"Jerry Buss was more than just an owner. He was one of the great innovators that any sport has ever encountered," said Pat Riley, who coached four of Buss' 10 title teams, in a statement. "He was a true visionary, and it was obvious with the Lakers in the '80s that 'Showtime' was more than just Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It was really the vision of a man who saw something that connected with a community."
Buss is survived by his six children: Johnny, Jim, Joe, Jesse and Jeanie Buss, and Janie Drexel; and 8 grandchildren. Buss’ six children, all of whom have been involved with the Lakers franchise over the years, own the Lakers in a joint trust and will continue to run it in the passing of their father.