Twitter Reacts to Tragic Passing of Lakers Owner Jerry Buss

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 18, 2013

LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 12:  Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss appears before his team's preseason game against the Sacramento Kings at the Thomas & Mack Center October 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Dr. Jerry Buss, the longtime owner of the Los Angeles Lakers and one of the most influential figures in North American professional sports, has passed away at age 80.

The Buss family released a statement (via Lakers.com) about the passing of Jerry and what it means both for the family and sports community. 

We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community.

NBA commissioner David Stern also released a statement (via NBA.com) talking about Buss' importance to the success of the league. 

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.

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times first reported the news on Twitter Monday morning.

The news of Buss' death comes on the heels of a report on Friday from Sam Amick and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today stating that he had been in the hospital "for a few months with an undisclosed form of cancer."

Given the incredible success of the Lakers with Buss as the owner—the franchise has won 10 championships since he bought the team in 1979—this is, as Bresnahan wrote, a sad day for everyone associated with the franchise.

Buss took over the franchise with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar still in his prime and right before the start of the Magic Johnson era. With those two at the top of the roster, as well as James Worthy, Kurt Rambis and Byron Scott, that group won five championships in the 1980s.

After several down seasons, Buss was at the front of deals that brought Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant to Los Angeles and started a new dynasty in the early 2000s.

The Lakers' official Twitter released this statement and picture of Buss after his passing was made public. 

Longtime Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss passed away today at 5:55am after a long illness. He was 80. #RIPDrBuss twitter.com/Lakers/status/…

— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 18, 2013

James Worthy, a member of those Showtime teams in the 1980s, had nothing but praise for Buss as both an owner and person. 

Condolences to the Buss family. Dr Buss was not only the greatest sports owner, but a true friend & just a really cool guy. Loved him dearly

— James Worthy (@James_Worthy42) February 18, 2013

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban related to the nature of Buss' character and the way he carried himself as one of the most prominent owners in all of sports. 

RIP Jerry Buss.Your encouragement and support along with your stories of staying true to yourself had an enormous impact on me.

Mark Cuban (@mcuban) February 18, 2013

Marcel Mutoni of SlamOnline.com provided one of the best and coolest pictures of Jerry Buss you will ever see. 

One of the best pics from a fantastic Jerry Buss photo gallery from the LA Times lat.ms/YBGRRf -twitpic.com/c4w1r2

— Marcel Mutoni (@marcel_mutoni) February 18, 2013

Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, who was part of that great Lakers-Pistons rivalry in the late 1980s and played for Buss in 1998-99, offered his condolences. 

My thoughts and prayers are with the Buss family. Dr. Jerry Buss was like a Dad to me and is a tremendous loss to @lakers fam. @jeaniebuss

— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) February 18, 2013

If you like stats and numbers, Darren Rovell of ESPN.com shows you just how successful the Lakers were under Buss' watch.

Ridiculous stat: The Lakers were in the NBA Finals 48.4% of the seasons that Jerry Buss was the owner.

— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) February 18, 2013

Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated put things in the simplest terms after learning that Buss had passed away.

Rachel Nichols of CNN tweeted out her condolences to the family of the Lakers owner.

Hall of Fame sports broadcaster Rich Marotta provided some insight into the scope of Buss' influence on the entire Los Angeles sports scene from the time he bought the Lakers.

Even though owning the Lakers is what he was known for, Buss was a major factor in several Los Angeles sports teams and events being as big and popular as they were.

Kevin Modesti of the Los Angeles Daily News added some perspective on just how much the business of sports has changed since Buss purchased the Lakers.

It is amazing to look at what the Lakers are worth now and see that the franchise was sold for less than $70 million at one point.

Rick Reilly of ESPN talked about his experience as a young sportswriter going to cover the Lakers during those Showtime days.

Albert Breer of the NFL Network, like so many of us, only know things about Buss that we read or saw based on what the Lakers were doing. But Breer also understands what the Lakers mean to the sports world.

Just the Lakers brand is enough to make you take notice. That doesn't happen without the investment Buss made in this franchise after he took over.

Associated Press film critic Christy Lemire, like a lot of people who grew up with basketball in the 1980s, has a special place in her heart for the Lakers and what Buss helped to create.

It takes a special kind of personality to own a franchise as big and important as the Lakers. Buss came along at the perfect time for the franchise, giving the Lakers a new swagger and attitude that helped shape their future.

Finding a simple way to put Buss' influence into words is not easy. In fact, it's probably impossible. All we can do is take time to reflect on what he meant to the Lakers, the NBA and professional sports as a whole.