“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.
Dr. Buss, who had been hospitalized the majority of the past 18 months, “showed his amazing strength and will to live. It was our father’s often stated desire and expectation that the Lakers remain in the Buss family. The Lakers have been our lives as well and we will honor his wish and do everything in our power to continue his unparalleled legacy,” the statement concluded.
In his 33-year tenure with the Lakers, he singlehandedly turned the Lakers into one of the most recognizable teams in the NBA, which saw 10 championships under his guidance.
Buss has been batteling cancer, but the immediate cause of death was kidney failure. He died at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to his assistant Bob Steiner.
“The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come,” NBA commissioner David Stern said. “More importantly, we have lost a dear and valued friend.
Since his leadership began with the Lakers in 1979, Buss acquired talented players like Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Dwight Howard and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Buss’ accomplishments with the Lakers include making it to the NBA Finals 16 times in that 33-year period and winning 10 titles between 1980 and 2010. The Lakers, now run largely by Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss, two of his six children, are easily are the NBA’s winningest franchise since he purchased the club.
Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen issued the following statement, “The NBA, and indeed all of sports ownership, has lost a titan and innovator in Dr. Jerry Buss. At a time when professional basketball needed an infusion of new thinking and vision, Dr. Buss stepped forward in ways that truly redefined our game on and off the court. He will be missed as a father, owner, leader and friend. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Buss family and the entire Los Angeles Lakers organization.”
Buss earned a Ph.D. in chemistry at age 24 and had careers in aerospace and real estate development before stepping into sports.
He is survived by sons Johnny, Jim, Joey and Jesse and daughters Jeanie Buss and Janie Drexel, all of Southern California; eight grandchildren; former wife JoAnn of Las Vegas; half sister Susan Hall of Phoenix; half brother Micky Brown of Scottsdale; and stepbrother Jim Brown of Star Valley, Wyoming.
Funeral and memorial service arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Lakers Youth Foundation or a charity of the donor’s choice.
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