Last week it was announced that Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers owner and one of the most successful owners in sports history, was nearing the end of his battle with cancer after nearly 18 months of fighting. Buss had kept the news under wraps largely until last week, when it was reported that the cancer would be terminal.
Today, Jerry Buss finally passed on to the next life. He leaves a legacy and a franchise that is one of the greatest in sports. Buss bought the Lakers in 1979 from Jack Kent Cooke for $67.5 million along with the Los Angeles Kings–the Los Angeles NHL franchise.
Since that purchase, the Lakers have won 10 of their titles, seen the likes of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe Bryant play on the Staples Center hardwood, have Pat Riley and Phil Jackson coach some pretty great Laker teams, and have one of the greatest GM’s of all time in Jerry West gather talent for him.
Buss was the epitomy of Los Angeles. Even his look spelled out Hollywood. The open collar pink shirt with the bell bottom jeans, the hipster cowboy boots and the mysterious sun glasses? Jerry Buss was all about that. He was a chance taker and a willing spender, and for a majority of his time in L.A–really all of it–that chance taking paid off.
Buss was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. Behind him, Buss will leave a lucrative Lakers franchise that will be run by the next of kin. His daughter, Jeanie Buss, will run the team from a business and marketing perspective. The basketabll operations will be largely left up to his son, Jim Buss, who will work along with current Lakers’ GM Mitch Kupchack to keep the Lakers winning tradition going.
Dr. Buss was a great basketball mind and was the owner among owners in the NBA. He was a great rival to the Boston Celtics for a majority of his tenure as the Los Angeles Lakers owner. He leaves behind a legacy and a tradition that will forever be embedded in the hearts and minds of those who love the NBA.