Dr. Jerry Buss, longtime owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, passed away today at 5:55 am after a long illness. He was 80 years old.
“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 had been hospitalized much of the past 18 months in a battle which “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.
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.
Dr. Jerry Buss has been hospitalized because of blood clots in his legs caused by excessive travel, a team spokesman said Wednesday.
“He is doing well and expects to be released in the next day or two,” said Lakers vice president of public relations John Black.
“Shaq had a long and amazing career, with a huge impact both on and off the court. His contributions were significant to the entire NBA, but we specifically appreciate what he did with and what he meant to the Lakers during his eight years with us. We have three championships that we wouldn’t have won without him, and we will forever be grateful for his significant contributions to those teams.”
- Official Statement from Dr. Jerry Buss on Shaq’s retirement
Tomorrow, the 13th, Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen will get most of the headlines. Michael Jordan, who’s presenting his Chicago Bulls teammate, will probably get rest (dollars to donuts MJ off-handedly, and without realizing, degrades Pippen by referring to him as his “sidekick,” or mentioning Scottie was the “only one who could come close to beating me 1-on-1.”)
But the soon-to-be Hall of Famer with the biggest impact on the game of basketball is “The Good Doctor,” Lakers owner, Dr. Jerry Buss. From his shrewd 25 year, $25 million contract for Magic Johnson, to his willingness to pay the luxury tax this off-season for a run at a second Laker 3-Peat, Jerry Buss is a stone-cold winner.
(pictured above (L to R) with Mrs. United States 2005, and aesthetic dentist, Chiann Van Gibson, Motley Crue’s Vince Neil, Dennis Haskins a.ka. Mr. Belding from Saved by the Bell, and some lady named Dovie)
Dr. Buss assembled the pieces for “Showtime,” the greatest offensive show in all of basketball history. For that alone, he should be inducted twice. In addition to the aforementioned Magic contract, Buss pulled off another coup by selling The Forum naming rights to Great Western Savings & Loan - a move that would be the precursor to modern stadium/arena deals. And, he’s not just a fat wallet. Dr. Buss has a fine basketball mind, and better yet, sticks to his guns. Buss overruled Le Logo, and drafted Magic Johnson (apparently Jerry was pushing for Sidney Moncrief?), and let Shaquille O’Neal walk from the franchise when he knew Shaq’s price tag was too steep for the return he’d provide.
Oh, and one other thing…
He’s the most successful owner in the history of sports. The Lakers have made The Finals 16 times in his 31 year tenure. Imagine your favorite football team making the Super Bowl every other year. Imagine your favorite team winning 10 of them.
He’s Dr. Jerry Buss - The Greatest of All Time.
The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced its finalists for the Hall in 2010. Several Lakers were among the finalists including Jerry Buss, Tex Winter, Jamaal Wilkes as well as the 1960 Olympic Team which included Jerry West and the 1992 Olympic Team, the “Dream Team” which featured Magic Johnson.
Read the complete release from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.