Los Angeles Lakers owner Buss dies aged 80

LOS ANGELES – Jerry Buss, the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, has died at the age of 80. On Monday his assistant, Bob Steiner, said Buss died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA. Though Buss had been suffering from cancer, Steiner said the cause of death had been kidney failure.
Jerry Buss won 10 NBA titles as Lakers owner. Net photo.
Jerry Buss won 10 NBA titles as Lakers owner. Net photo.

LOS ANGELES – Jerry Buss, the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, has died at the age of 80. On Monday his assistant, Bob Steiner, said Buss died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA. Though Buss had been suffering from cancer, Steiner said the cause of death had been kidney failure.

Buss, who made his fortune in real estate, bought the Lakers and the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979.

Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 2008, he said: “One of the first things I tried to do when I bought the team was to make it an identification for this city, like Motown in Detroit. I try to keep that identification alive. I’m a real Angeleno. I want us to be part of the community.”

One of Buss’s innovations was to introduce the concept of celebrities watching NBA games from court-side seats.  The NBA commissioner, David Stern, said: “Jerry Buss helped set the league on the course it is on today.”

A Lakers team including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson won an NBA championship in Buss’s first season as owner and went on to win five; the Lakers won three titles between 2000 and 2002 with a team led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant (who had been drafted from high school) and coached by Phil Jackson.

Two more titles followed, in 2009 and 2010; this season, an expensively assembled Lakers team has struggled.

Buss – whose Lakers teams reached the NBA Finals 16 times and under whom their current home, the Staples Center, was built – was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

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