Jerry Buss, the longtime owner of the Lakers whose penchant for showmanship helped turn the game of basketball into “Showtime” and who led the team to 10 NBA championships, died Monday. He was 79.
Last week, it was revealed that Buss was hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with an undisclosed form of cancer.
A self-made millionaire who built his fortune in real estate, Buss bought the Lakers in 1979.
He charted his successful course with marquee players Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, Hall of Fame coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson, celebrities sitting courtside and Laker Girls dancing during timeouts.
“I really tried to create a Laker image, a distinct identity,” Buss said. “I mean, the Lakers are pretty damn Hollywood.”
It was a remarkable winning streak for a man who dug his way out of a hardscrabble youth.
A Depression-era baby, Jerry Hatten Buss was born Jan. 27, 1934, in Salt Lake City. His parents divorced when he was an infant.
His mother struggled to make ends meet as a waitress in tiny Evanston, Wyo., and Buss remembered standing in food lines in the bitter cold.
Later, Buss earned a science scholarship to the University of Wyoming. At 19 he married a coed named JoAnn Mueller, and they would eventually have four children: John, Jim, Jeanie and Janie.
By the mid-1950s, the couple had moved to Southern California, where Buss earned a doctorate in chemistry at USC.
article courtesy of KTLA.com
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