Jerry Buss, who oversaw a total of 10 NBA championship wins as owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, has died at the age of 80.
Buss had been hospitalised for much of the past 18 months to have treatment for cancer, but the official cause of his death was kidney failure.
The former real estate investor bought the Lakers in 1979 and ushered in the ‘Showtime’ era of the 1980s, which yielded five NBA titles and saw the likes of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar become household names.
After a barren spell in the 1990s, five more titles followed at the beginning of the 21st Century as the likes of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal took the Lakers back to the top. Buss was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
“We not only have lost our cherished father but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community,” a statement released on behalf of the Buss family said.
NBA commissioner David Stern stated that the league had “lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come.”
Bryant, who was raised in Italy, said the impact Buss had on the Lakers reached all over the world.
He told the Los Angeles Times: “The brand of basketball that he brought here with Showtime and the impact that he had on the sport as a whole – those vibrations were felt (by) a kid all the way to Italy at six years old before basketball was even global.”
Two of Buss’ children are executive vice presidents of the Lakers – Jeanie Buss manages the business and Jim Buss oversees basketball operations.