Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss passes away, former Lakers express condolences


jerry-bussYesterday the Lakers’ long time owner Jerry Buss died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Buss had been hospitalized for most of the past 18 months while undergoing cancer treatment, but the cause of death was kidney failure, according to Buss’ asssistant.

Buss always referred to the Lakers as his extended family, ever since he bought the team in 1979.

Few owners in sports history can approach Buss’ accomplishments with the Lakers, who made the NBA Finals 16 times during his nearly 34 years in charge, winning 10 titles between 1980 and 2010.

Former LA Lakers players of course expressed their condolences to their former boss. One of them was Dennis Rodman.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the Buss family. Dr. Jerry Buss was like a Dad to me and is a tremendous loss to the Lakers family,” Rodman tweeted.

He was joined by ex-Laker Gary Payton, who also sent a tweet regarding Buss’ passing: “Thoughts and prayers to Jerry Buss’s family and friends… Great man, great leader, born winner.”

Buss acquired, nurtured and befriended a staggering array of talented players and basketball minds during his Hall of Fame tenure, from Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy to Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard.

”His incredible commitment and desire to build a championship-caliber team that could sustain success over a long period of time has been unmatched,” said Jerry West, Buss’ longtime Lakers general manager and now a consultant with the Golden State Warriors.

”With all of his achievements, Jerry was without a doubt one of the most humble men I’ve ever been around. His vision was second to none; he wanted an NBA franchise brand that represented the very best and went to every extreme to accomplish his goals.”

Shaq O’Neal tweeted that he was “deeply saddened” over the loss of the “great Dr. Jerry Buss”. “He was a dear friend, mentor and a brilliant business mind. Thank you for 8 great years,” O’Neal tweeted.

LA Lakers legend Magic Johnson sent a tweet, noting that Buss was “…a great man and an incredible friend.”

“Now (Buss) leaves and incredible organization to his kids, and Jeanie Buss is so smart and intelligent,” Johnson said Monday in an interview with ESPN. “He sent her to (University of Southern California) business school, and he knew that he wanted her to be a major factor and be a part of the Lakers organization and probably run it one day.”

Another LA Lakers legendary player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said when someone as celebrated and charismatic as Jerry Buss dies, we are reminded of two things.

“First, just how much one person with vision and strength of will can accomplish. Second, how fragile each of us is, regardless of how powerful we were. Those two things combine to inspire us to reach for the stars, but also to remain with our feet firmly on the ground among our loved ones. … The man may be gone, but he has made us all better people for knowing him,” said the leading scorer in NBA history.

James Worthy also expressed his condolences to the Buss family, noting that Buss “…was not only the greatest sports owner, but a true friend and just a really cool guy.”

Working with front-office executives West, Bill Sharman and Mitch Kupchak, Buss spent lavishly to win his titles despite lacking a huge personal fortune, often running the NBA’s highest payroll while also paying high-profile coaches Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.

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