Jerry Buss died today at the age of 79.
The longtime owner of the Los Angeles Lakers was hospitalized earlier this week. The exact reason behind Buss’ hospitalization isn’t known but it was revealed yesterday that he had been battling cancer.
According to TMZ, several former and current Lakers players visited Buss in the hospital over the weekend fearing that he would soon succumb to cancer. Sadly, it was announced this morning that Buss passed away.
After Buss was hospitalized, Kobe Bryant said:
“He means everything to me. 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, a self-made millionaire, purchased the Los Angeles Lakers, the L.A. Kings and The Forum for $67.5 million in 1979. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant all played under Buss and the Lakers won 10 championships during his time as owner.
Buss had an amazing win record with the Lakers but he also changed the way a stadium operates. NBA Commissioner David Stern said that Buss was responsible for bringing the entertainment aspect into the stadium.
“Jerry Buss helped set the league on the course it is on today … Remember, he showed us it was about ‘Showtime,’ the notion that an arena can become the focal point for not just basketball, but entertainment. He made it the place to see and be seen.”
Buss was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.