The legendary owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry Buss, died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times said. He was 80.
Buss, who was suffering from cancer, passed responsibility for the NBA team’s operations to his son Jim in 2011, while his daughter Jeanie took charge of all the Lakers’ business activities.
He became the Lakers’ owner in 1979, when he bought the team along with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and the Forum, where both teams played, from real estate businessman Jack Kent Cooke for the then-record sum of $67.5 million.
Under Buss’s ownership, the Lakers won 10 NBA titles and the value of the franchise - according to Forbes magazine - is now $643 million, second in the league only to the New York Knicks.
Buss was at the helm of the Lakers during the 1980s “Showtime” era of Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy.
The team once again began winning NBA championship rings early in the last decade, led by stars such as Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Spaniard Pau Gasol.
“One of the first things I tried to do when I bought the team was to make it an identification for this city, like Motown in Detroit,” Buss said in a 2008 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I want us to be part of the community.”