Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who presided over a team that won 10 NBA titles and showcased some of the biggest names in professional basketball, died Monday. He was 80.
Bob Steiner, an assistant to Buss, confirmed that Buss had died in Los Angeles. Further details were not available. Buss had been suffering from an undisclosed form of cancer.
Under Buss’ ownership, the Lakers won NBA titles in 1980, ’82, ’85, ’87, ’88, 2000, ’01, ’02, ’09 and ’10. Among the all-time greats who played for the Lakers during Buss’ tenure were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Byron Scott, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Buss was credited with introducing “Showtime” to Los Angeles, bringing entertaining basketball to the Entertainment Capital of the World. He once said his goal was to make the Lakers synonymous with Los Angeles, which had been a Dodgers town up until the time he bought the team. Most would say he succeeded.
Buss bought the Lakers — along with the Los Angeles Kings, the Forum and real estate in central California, from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979 for $67.5 million. Forbes magazine now estimates the Lakers are worth $1 billion, second to the New York Knicks among NBA franchises.
Buss reportedly had been hospitalized several times in the past two years. The Lakers confirmed he was in the hospital in December 2011 for blood clots in his leg, which they said was caused by excessive travel.