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LA Lakers' owner Buss dies
08:25 AEST Tue Feb 19 2013

Former players and rivals recalled Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers owner who died on Monday after a fight with cancer at age 80, as a visionary who helped mold the NBA and make the Lakers champions.

Buss won 10 NBA titles as owner of the Lakers, more than any other team owner in league history, after purchasing the Lakers, ice hockey's Los Angeles Kings, their arena and a ranch from Jack Kent Cooke for $US67.5 million ($A66 million) in 1979.

"The NBA has lost a visionary owner whose influence on our league is incalculable and will be felt for decades to come," NBA commissioner David Stern said.

"More importantly, we have lost a dear and valued friend."

Buss, who was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010, was recalled fondly by fellow Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, who said Buss was like a "second father" after making the Lakers' selection of Johnson in the 1979 NBA Draft a condition of the purchase deal.

"He was a fun loving guy but he was very competitive as well," Johnson said.

"He wanted to win championships and he brought us in all together to do just that.

"He was the first owner who cared about entertainment - let's focus on the timeouts, the Laker Girls (cheerleaders), all of these things that hadn't been done before.

"He changed the scope of entertainment in sports. He was at the forefront of all of that. He was a great man and an incredible friend."

Buss launched the "Showtime" era of the Lakers that saw Johnson win five titles and later become a part-owner of the team, which is now guided by son Jim Buss on basketball matters and daughter Jeanie Buss on the business side.

In 34 seasons owning the Lakers, they made 16 trips to the final, winning 10 times and dominating with such stars as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

"He has meant everything to me in my career. What he has done, it's hard to match in the world of sports," Bryant said of Buss, whom he once dubbed "the greatest owner in the history of team sports."

O'Neal paid his respects to Buss via Twitter.

"I'm deeply saddened over da loss of the great Dr. Jerry Buss. He was a dear friend, mentor,and brilliant business mind thank u 4 8 gr8 yrs," O'Neal said.


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