Buss Made Lakers A ‘Showtime’ Operation

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Lakers owner Jerry Buss, who brought 10 NBA championships to Los Angeles and “Showtime” to the basketball world, died Monday at the age of 80.

Buss died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to his assistant Bob Steiner. He had reportedly been hospitalized with cancer, but the immediate cause of death was unknown.

There have been few sports executives in history to make the kind of impact as Buss, putting together lineups that included superstars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and took the Lakers to the top of the basketball world.

Prior to Buss taking over the Lakers in 1979, the Boston Celtics were the NBA’s reigning royalty with 13 championships and six times defeating L.A. in The Finals. But under this ownership, the Lakers ushered in the ‘Showtime’ era behind Johnson, Worthy and Abdul-Jabbar to win titles in 1980, ’82, ’85, ’87, ’88. With O’Neal and Bryant (both as a pair and with Bryant as the headliner later on), L.A. took home titles in 2000, ’01, ’02, ’09 and 10.

In the process, Buss made the Lakers into the most exciting act and hottest name in sports by attracting A-list Hollywood celebrities to their home games at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. and the downtown L.A. Staples Center. It was the presence of Academy Award winner Jack Nicholson sitting courtside and interacting with players and coaches as the Lakers’ highest-profile fan that led to the star-filled scene on Sunday at the Toyota Center in Houston where the 62nd NBA All-Star Game was a virtual Who’s Who of big names from the movie, music and sports industries.

Born Gerald Hatten Buss on Jan. 27, 1933 in Salt Lake City and raised in Wyoming, he worked himself up as a child of Depression Era breadlines to become a multi-millionaire. He would complete one of the biggest transactions in sports history when he purchased the Lakers, L.A. Kings hockey team, the Forum and a large chunk of California real estate from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979 for $67.5 million. The Lakers franchise has an estimated worth of $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, second only to the New York Knicks in the NBA.

The day-to-day operation of the team had recently been taken over by Buss’s children, Jim (basketball operations) and Jeanie (business operations).

Buss was a graduate of the University of Southern California, earning a doctorate in physical chemistry.

Even in a city such as Los Angeles, where the Hollywood stars shine, Buss — for more than three decades — had the show that most often sparkled. The NBA and the sports world are dimmer with his passing.

“He’s meant everything to me in my career in terms of taking a risk on a 17-year-old kid coming out of high school and then believing in me my entire career,” Bryant said at an All-Star weekend news conference in Houston. “And then for the game itself, the brand of basketball that he implemented in Showtime carried the league.”

31 Comments

  1. Luca says:

    You ll always be’ in our hearts Jerry …

  2. hello Laker says:

    RIP Dr.Buss..

  3. CHINA MAN says:

    R.I.P. :( LAKER4LIFE!!!

  4. noel says:

    Condolences to the Buss family. Dr. Buss will surely be missed. Thank you for making the Lakers one of the best team in the NBA or perhaps the best team. If not for Dr. Buss, I would not be a Lakers fan since I can remember.

  5. TERRENCE says:

    YOU HAVE MADE HISTORY HERE ON EARTH AND I AM A WITNESS, THE LORD WANTS YOU MORE GO MAKE HISTORY THERE DR. JERRY BUSS R.I.P.

  6. Olukekere says:

    RIP Dr. Buzz

  7. Aldrin C. Tucay from Philippines says:

    Thank You Mr. Buss for bringing the Lakers to a 10 championships… Thank You.. May you rest in peace…I am your Lakers fans since I was in Grade school..Till now I love Lakers.. Love you Lakers till the end…!!! pLzzz do your best now team.. make your 17th championships this year for our beloved Mr. Buss..We’ll miss you Mr. Buss..Thank you! Kobe and teammates pLz for Mr. Buss..Thank you.

  8. Sanjayraj Sathyaveera says:

    R.I.P. Buss

  9. Deo says:

    thank you for bringing the Lakers to what they are now Mr. Buss…May you Rest In Peace

  10. fsm says:

    pray for you dr. buss….

  11. Eric Domingo says:

    My condolences to the Buss family and for the whole laker organization!Sad news for my favorite team.I hope this will turn things around for the lakers because we know that this is what he likes!

  12. johnny says:

    Another financial visionary,a genius gone….The Lakers franchise will never be the same….EVER…RIP

  13. Jason Page says:

    As a Sonic fan I always hated the Lakers were so good! He was the reason why! Good for basketball and so much more! He is a lock on the Hall of Fame for sure and all the best to his family (Legacy is set, Great Guy!)

  14. Lakersfan4ever says:

    R.I.P Dr Jerry Buss, You are in a better place, and we thank you for Making the Lakers the team the been for alot of years, and I hope your memory and har work live on in LA. The Lakers will finish this season for Dr
    Buss and they will make the playoffs.

  15. Lakersfan says:

    rest in peace Jerry Buss you will be missed

  16. go celtics says:

    R.I.P

  17. JimD54 says:

    I second that, no Laker bashing today, Dr. Buss was a great man and he will be deeply missed, my condolences to all the Laker family, organization, and fans. He brought the show to town and there won’t be another one like him……

  18. thejerr says:

    from a life long Lakers fan, thank you for everything Jerry Buss

  19. BoyHEAT says:

    My prayers to Dr. Buss! As much as I love seeing the Lakers facing my team. No time to talk about basketball here so Haters, give just this day to offer condolences than bashing the Lakers!

  20. Nash fan says:

    RIP Jerry Buss. Hope ths 2013 Lakers make you proud! I hope today’s Lakers do not die competing for a Playoff spot! Cmon Lakers!

  21. G says:

    wow he stole the lakers, kings and the building from that guy.. 67 mil wow

    • Lakersfan4ever says:

      Your Sons on the team will make you proud this season and Many more. Haters stay away from this blog with your comments.

  22. josho83 says:

    RIP D. Buss. It’s a sad day for us here in LA. We’ve lost the greatest LAKER of them all. Thank you for all you have given to us. BleedPurple&Gold

  23. Rafael says:

    It’s Dwight’s fault.

  24. Darla Jackson says:

    I want to send my condolences to the Buss family. Dr. Buss’s presence has been missed since he became ill. I am thankful for his hard work to make the Lakers and elite organization. As a fan I will continue to support and be proud of the Lakers and all of the future seasons ahead of them. As a fan it is the least I can do so let’s all let the Buss family know how much we appreciate Dr. Buss’s dedication to the franchise.

  25. manny says:

    Thankyou Mr buss for..first keeping the franchice here in LA..second for making the lakers the team they have been for years…hope not many things change,we love the way is been….thankyou