Lakers Lose A Legend With Passing Of Jerry Buss

A glance at the man who brought the Lakers Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson and why he may be the greatest owner in sports history.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

Jerry Buss passed away Monday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center due to kidney failure associated with his battle with cancer. In case you're not into the game of basketball, here's a quick history on who Buss was and why his passing is so relevant.

Buss bought the Lakers in 1979 when the team was floundering — along with much of the rest of the NBA. Call it luck or call it great planning, but that was also the same year the Lakers got Magic Johnson. Since then, there's been no looking back.

The Lakers have been arguably the most successful franchise in all of sports, having made the NBA Finals 16 times in the 32 years Buss has owned the team, winning 10 championships between 1980 and 2010. The Lakers have more wins than any other NBA team since Buss bought them in '79. They've

If you've ever lived in L.A., and I have, you can't drive a mile without noticing the town bleeds purple. Signs, banners, car flags, billboards…you name it — all you see is Lakers fandom. L.A. is in a deep love affair with their Lakers, and they all owe it to Buss.

According to his LA Times' obituary, Buss said, "I really tried to create a Laker image, a distinct identity…I mean, the Lakers are pretty damn Hollywood."

Kobe Bryant has said, "He meant everything to me. He took a chance on a 17 year-old kid from out in Philadelphia. No one really saw that potential… You’d be hard-pressed to find another owner who has had that kind of success. He has been able to construct championship teams, regroup, reconstruct them again, regroup, reconstruct them again—I mean, rebuild them in a very, very quick order. That’s tough to find."

And oh ya, Buss is a doctor who has a PhD and an MS in physical chemistry. His accolades should also include an expert financial investment degree as well. When he bought the Lakers, along with the NHL's Kings, The Forum and a ranch for $67.5 million, he made sure to get the most out of his investment. Today, the Lakers are worth nearly a billion dollars alone.  

Just to compare the greatness of Buss, here are a few NBA owners worth noting, but are still leaps and bounds behind of Buss' accomplishments:

Walter Brown – Original owner of the Celtics, Brown founded the team in 1945 and saw a run of six championsips in seven seasons before his passing. Brown hired Red Auerbach, arguably the greatest coach in NBA history.

Peter Holt – Holt invested in the Spurs in 1993. Since then, San Antonio has won NBA titles in '99, '03, '05 and '07. Holt and his investors initially paid $75 million for the team, which is now worth about $418 million.

Jerry Reinsdorf – I'm not going into too much detail with Reinsdorf. He won six championships because of guys named Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen and Michael friggin' Jordan.

How amazing do Buss' stats look now?

Josh Helmuth is the editor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JHelmuth or subscribe at

Photo Credit: Getty