Legendary Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss passed away Monday morning from kidney failure in Los Angeles. He had been battling an undisclosed form of cancer for the past year and a half.
Buss bought the Lakers for $67.5 million in 1979 and transformed the team into a franchise worth over $1 billion. He was the one who introduced “Showtime” to the world, with Magic Johnson at the helm.
The Lakers won 10 NBA titles during Buss’ tenure, with a plethora of stars lining up one after another. From Johnson to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Kobe Bryant to Shaquille O’Neal, Buss established a culture of winning and contending for a championship every single year.
We could go on and on describing Buss’ legacy, but former Laker great and current Warriors executive Jerry West summed it up beautifully in this statement (via CSN):
This is an extremely sad day for me. As I have said many times, I have been blessed to work for Jerry Buss, the most successful owner in basketball history. His incredible commitment and desire to build a championship-caliber team that could sustain success over a long period of time has been unmatched. With all of his achievements, Jerry was without a doubt one of the most humble men I’ve ever been around. His vision was second to none; he wanted an NBA franchise brand that represented the very best and went to every extreme to accomplish his goals. His achievements as an owner are legendary and will never be duplicated: 10 NBA titles and 16 trips to the NBA Finals. Jerry was an innovator in the sports world and many sports franchises have tried to follow his recipe for success and his vision of making NBA basketball as much about sports as entertainment.
Our relationship has always been very unique; Jerry was always supportive of the many tough decisions that were made during our time together. I will particularly remember fondly our walks together during training camps, which were some of the highlights of my time working with him and the Lakers.
I was blessed to have the opportunity to work for him and I will miss him dearly. My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Buss family and the Lakers organization. We lost a great man today and a legend in our business.