x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

NBA: Tributes paid as Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss dies after cancer fight

The 80-year-old, who had been ill for some time, saw his side reach 16 NBA finals in his 34-year reign in charge.

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss (r) with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher.
Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss (r) with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher.

Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers' owner, has died at the age of 80.

Buss had been in poor health for the past 18 months and has been undergoing treatment for cancer.

A Lakers statement read: "We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community."

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 $67.5 million in 1979.

He launched the "Showtime" era of the Lakers that saw the side 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 his 34 seasons as owner, the Lakers 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.

Johnson, whose selection by the Lakers in 1979 NBA Draft a condition of the purchase deal, said Buss had been like a second father.

"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, 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."

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

"More importantly, we have lost a dear and valued friend. Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time."

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE