Jerry Buss, owner of the Los Angeles Lakers since 1979, died at at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles. He was 80 years old. According to a Feb.18 CNN article, he suffered from an unspecified type of cancer and had been hospitalized in ill health for several months. Buss is survived by four sons, two daughters and other relatives.
According to the New York Times, the team was near bankruptcy in 1979 when Buss took over ownership. He brought the franchise to life and won 10 NBA titles. He came from a depression era childhood and earned a PhD in Chemistry. After a successful real estate career he was able to put together $67.5 million to buy the Lakers from Jack Kent Cooke. The purchase included the N.H.L. Los Angeles Kings team, Cooke's California ranch and the Forum sports arena in Los Angeles.
Forbes Magazine recognized the L.A. Lakers as the second most highly valued team in the NBA. At a value of $1 billion, the Lakers are second only to the New York Knicks team that is valued at $1.1 billion.
Buss was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, recognized for bringing Hollywood style showmanship to the game. With movie stars on the sidelines and "Laker Girls" to spice up the proceedings, he brought new life to the game.
With names like Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant Shaquille O'Neal, General Manager Jerry West, coach Phil Jackson and legendary broadcaster, Chick Hearn, Buss was also instrumental in creating basketball legends.
The Buss family will retain ownership of the Lakers franchise but, according to a Feb.18 LA Times article, there may be trouble getting them to stay on the same page. Jimmy and Jeanie Buss are the leaders, but the two siblings barely communicate after failing to rehire coach Phil Jackson, who is engaged to Jeanie.