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.
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.
Lakers owner Jerry Buss passed away this morning. A sad day for L.A.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) February 18, 2013
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.
The Lakers' official Twitter released this statement and picture of Buss after his passing was made public.
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
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.
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
RIP Jerry Buss.— Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter) February 18, 2013
Rachel Nichols of CNN tweeted out her condolences to the family of the Lakers owner.
Jerry Buss was without question the greatest owner in the history of the LA sports landscape.10 NBA titles,owned Kings and Forum Boxing.— Rich Marotta (@boxingrich) February 18, 2013
Dr Buss bought Lakers, Kings and Forum in 1979. Gave Magic unheard of 25 year, 25 mil contract. Loved boxing, horse racing and poker too.— Rich Marotta (@boxingrich) February 18, 2013
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.
Jerry Buss paid Jack Kent Cooke $67.5M for Lakers, Kings, Forum, etc. -- about $100M less than Cooke would pay for L.A. Daily News.— Kevin Modesti (@KevinModesti) February 18, 2013
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.
RIP Jerry Buss, who made those years at the Forum the most outrageous, decadent and fun time a sportswriter could have.— Rick Reilly (@ReillyRick) February 18, 2013
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.
I don't know a ton about Jerry Buss, but I know that there are few more powerful brands or successful teams in sports than the Lakers. RIP.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 18, 2013
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.
Grew up going w/dad to Showtime Lakers games in the '80s. Saw Kareem, Magic, Worthy. Too young then to appreciate the vision of #JerryBuss— Christy Lemire (@christylemire) February 18, 2013
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.