Jerry Buss, the longtime owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, died on Monday morning. He was 80.
Buss bought the Lakers in 1979 and built the most successful team in the NBA—winning 10 championships with marquee players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, and Hall of Fame coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.
Shaq tweeted on Feb. 13, "Dr. Jerry Buss, thinking about you & wish I could be there, get well soon. I can't wait to see you on 4/2/13 #Loveyou #Lakers"
Sadly, Shaquille won't see Buss again on the date he mentioned. Last year, Buss was hospitalized for months with an undisclosed intestinal problem. He had not attended a Lakers game during the 2012–13 season due to health concerns. On Feb. 14, it was revealed that Buss had been battling cancer since last year. Buss was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with an undisclosed form of cancer, and died at 5:55 a.m. on Monday.
A self-made millionaire, Buss turned whatever he touched into gold. When he took over the Hollywood team, the Lakers' success came quickly, and they won five championships in the 1980s with Hall of Famers Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper and James Worthy, and Hall of Fame coach Pat Riley. Buss called the team "Showtime" due to their exciting offense.
Buss built another marquee lineup that brought five more NBA championships when the Lakers acquired Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant in 1996. Led by Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, Los Angeles won three consecutive titles between 2000 to 2002, securing the franchise its second "three-peat." After losing both the 2004 and 2008 NBA Finals, the Lakers won two more championships by defeating the Orlando Magic in 2009 and Boston in 2010.
NBA Commissioner David Stern issued a statement, saying "The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come."
Laker legend Earvin Magic Johnson also posted on Twitter saying, "My thoughts and prayers are with the family & friends of Dr. Jerry Buss. He was a great man and an incredible friend."
Former Laker Shaquille O'Neal tweeted, "I'm deeply saddened over da loss of the great Dr. Jerry Buss. He was a dear friend, mentor,and brilliant business mind thank u 4 8 gr8 yrs."
Lakers Hall of Famer James Worthy also posted on his Twitter account, "Condolences to the Buss family. Dr Buss was not only the greatest sports owner, but a true friend & just a really cool guy. Loved him dearly."
Jerry Buss will be missed by many Laker fans.