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Jerry Buss, the longtime owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, has died at age 80. He had been hospitalized in recent months and will be remembered for overseeing the team’s last 10 NBA championships.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Buss was a self-made millionaire who bought the team in 1979. During his tenure, the team had some of the most famous basketball players in the world, from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson to Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. He helped make the sport one of the most popular in the country, turning his team into “Showtime.”
Last week, The LA Times first reported that Buss had been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and was being treated for an undisclosed cancer. Sources confirmed to USA Today that he had been hospitalized in recent months.
“Yeah, (Buss) has been on my mind, that's been on my mind for a while,” Bryant told USA Today last weekend in Houston, where the NBA held All-Star weekend. “I'm just trying to stay, gotta stay positive."
Abdul-Jabar had also sent his well-wishes on Twitter, writing, “Dr. Buss is an important part of the Laker family so I hope his stay in the hospital is short and he has a speedy recovery. #Jerrybuss.”
The Lakers teams with Abdul-Jabar and Johnson won five titles. The Lakers came back into prominence with O’Neal and Bryant, winning three titles in a row from 2000 to 2002. Their last two championships came in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.