Legendary Lakers owner Jerry Buss has passed away this morning aged 80 with family and friends by his side. Dr. Buss had long been dealing with serious illness but last week it was revealed that he was close to death. Throughout the course of history we have seen many great owners across a wide variety of sports, but none more so than Dr. Buss who bought the Lakers, along with the LA Kings and the Forum Arena for $67.5 million in 1979. Under Buss the Lakers organization has been able to acquire a host of legendary players such as Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Shaquille O’Neil, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard with Buss long claiming that no matter the cost, winning was what mattered most. Buss oversaw 16 Lakers finals appearances and 10 Lakers titles in his time forging what is known as one of the most successful sporting franchises in sports history.
Lakers legends past and present had visited Jerry in the hospital throughout his final days to pay there final respects and say thank you to a man many of them saw as a father and tributes have flooded in from throughout the World. Kobe Bryant himself has said that Dr. Buss believed in him from the start, and has guided him through his career as a mentor and leader. He also had this to say about their shared desire for a winning culture in Los Anegeles:
“We bonded every time we saw each other. Our drive to be successful was there. Championship or bust. It all started with Dr. Buss. We bonded over that. Hopefully LA understands everything he’s accomplished with this franchise”
Magic Johnson, who was drafted by Buss shared his memories of Buss via Twitter:
“I will always remember Dr. Buss’ big smile, his love for the Lakers, for poker and billiards, for the city of LA and for beautiful women”
NBA Commissioner David Stern also paid tribute:
“The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come”
In a press conference this morning it was revealed that there is no intention, nor will there be for the ownership of the Lakers to shift from the Buss family, and his children Jim, Jeannie and John will continue to uphold a level of leadership that Dr. Buss would have been proud of. Jim Buss has been running the team since his father fell ill with the help of GM Mitch Kupchak, while daughter Jeannie and son John will continue to oversee business operations for the team. It has been publicized that the relationship between Jim and Jeannie has been strained of late, but one can only hope that the loss of their father helps to bring them back together and the team’s recent struggles are not attributed solely to Jim. His children released this statement earlier:
“We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community”
From all of us at NBA Nation Australia and the fans of the Lakers and the NBA, Rest In Peace Jerry. Your legacy shall remain as one of the reasons we love the game, a testament to your passion for basketball and a recipe for success for those who follow in your footsteps.