According to the L.A. Times and TMZ, Jerry Buss passed away this morning at 80 years old due to complications from cancer. Buss was always a constant at Los Angeles Lakers games and helped usher in the "Showtime" era.
During his ownership from 1979 until now, the Lakers became synonymous with winning. They won 10 NBA championships while he was owner and helped make the Lakers a household name across America. Fans either loved or hated the Lakers due to their overwhelming success.
Buss wanted to make sure that the fans weren't just watching a basketball game but were entertained. He did so by introducing the Lakers girls and making the actual game an event.
Buss told the L.A. Times that he wanted to create a Lakers image in everything he did: "I really tried to create a Laker image, a distinct identity. I mean, the Lakers are pretty damn Hollywood."
Many teams across the NBA adopted several of the Lakers' ideas through bringing in entertainment during halftime and timeouts. While some people may think that the players were the reason for the NBA's success, an argument could be made that by making the games more fan-friendly, it helped to usher in new types of fans.
NBA commissioner David Stern spoke to the L.A. Times about Buss' legacy:
Jerry Buss helped set the league on the course it is on today. Remember, he showed us it was about "Showtime," the notion that an arena can become the focal point for not just basketball, but entertainment. He made it the place to see and be seen.
The Lakers and the NBA will miss Buss, but the NBA is a much better place because of him. Buss arguably had the greatest impact of any owner in recent times.