Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss has died at age 80, according to a spokesperson for Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Buss died at 5:55 a.m., according to Medical Center spokeswoman Sally Stewart.
On Thursday, sources familiar with the siutation confirmed that Buss had been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai with an undisclosed form of cancer. Buss had been hospitalized several times in recent years.
He spent time in a hospital last summer for dehydration. In December 2011, he was hospitalized for treatment of blood clots in his legs that officials said were caused by extensive traveling.
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Buss has owned the Lakers since 1979. The franchise won 10 of its 16 NBA titles under under his ownership. Buss recently put his son Jim in charge of more of the team’s day-to-day operations.
Buss earned a Ph.D in physical chemistry from the University of Southen California before becoming one of the most influential figures in Southern California sports in the late 1970s. In 1979, he also bought the Los Angeles Kings, the Forum — which became the place to be seen in a city of stars — and a ranch for $67.5 million.
“I really want to have fun with this thing,” Buss said at the time he purchased the Lakers.
The fun began immediately for the Lakers and their fans. The team drafted Earvin “Magic” Johnson out of Michigan State, and then went on to win the NBA title in Buss’ first season.
The Lakers won their second NBA title under Buss two years later before another championship in 1985 with a victory in the finals over rival Boston. By the late 1980s, the “Showtime” Lakers were in the spotlight with Hollywood celebrities in line for front-row seats to watch the dynasty win back-to-back NBA crown in 1987 and 1988.
Buss has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“This one day, I think I’ve received more happiness than I’ve given away over the past two years, or so,” Buss said on the day his star was unveiled.
The NBA’s 1990s power-shift brought an era dominated by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers went without a title in the decade before the organization returned to championship glory behind Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and coach Phil Jackson with NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and 2002.
LA’s free-agent moves brought two more titles in 2009 and 2010.