Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss has died of cancer at the age of 80. He had been hospitalized and has not been seen with the Lakers at all this season. Dr. Buss has also kept a low profile since his declining health in the last two years.
Buss, who received a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Southern California, moved to Los Angeles and became a real-estate investor. His biggest purchase by far was buying the Lakers in 1979 from Jack Kent Cooke for $67.5 million. Buss’s Lakers franchise went on to sign a TV deal with Time Warner Cable which has been recently valued at $1 billion by Forbes magazine. The New York Knicks are the only other team estimated more valuable.
Since Buss has been owner, the Lakers have won 10 NBA championships, bringing the franchise total to 16 (one less than the Boston Celtics). The Lakers are one of the top-spending teams in player salary with a $100 million payroll this year, which requires them to pay a luxury tax of $30 million this season, which has so far turned out as a disappointment.
Buss was seen as an owner who loved to compete and respected all the players. The players acquired under Buss were greats such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Erving “Magic” Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. When speaking to Kobe Bryant about the Lakers owner Kobe said the following:
“He means everything to me,” Bryant said. “He took a chance on a 17-year-old kid coming out of Philadelphia when nobody really saw that potential. He believed in me the entire way. Buss will be remembered as an owner who cared and loved the Lakers as well as the city of Los Angeles.