Lakers legend Dr. Jerry Buss dies at 80

Published On February 18, 2013 | By Jill Saftel

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryan, Lebron James … all have put their personal touch the game of basketball. But one man changed the business side of the NBA like no one else, and that man was Dr. Jerry Buss. Buss lost his battle with cancer Monday morning at the age of 80, announced by the Lakers.

His foray into the sports world began when he paid $67.5 million to buy the Lakers, the Los Angeles Kings and the Forum sports arena in 1979 in what was the largest sports transaction of the time. Buss made his millions in real estate, making a small investment in an apartment complex that not only paid off, but made it possible for Buss to create a legacy.

The glamorous Laker team we know today – the stars, the dancers, the hype – was created by Buss. Via The New York Times, Buss gave superstar Magic Johnson a 25-year, $25 million contract after his second season with the team. He was even quoted as saying the blowout contract was made to bring attention to Johnson and the team.

Among his many accolades were an election to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, 10 NBA championships, and the title as longest running owner in the NBA.

Before his health began to fail, Buss was a staple at every Lakers game in the luxury box. He had not attended a game this season. In his absence, his children Jim and Jeannie took over the operational side of the business; Jim running basketball operations while Jeannie dealt with the business end.

According to ESPN, some of his final moves included the offseason additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard in addition to the coaching change from Mike Brown to Mike D’Antoni this season.

Bostonians will remember Buss as the man who helped re-spark the Lakers vs. Celtics rivalry during some of the NBA’s best years – certainly a lasting legacy.

 

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About The Author

Jill studies journalism at Northeastern University, covers Hockey East for College Hockey News and is the sports editor for The Huntington News. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsaftel, just don’t ask her to choose between hockey and baseball, it’s impossible.