A Photo Timeline of Jerry Buss Throughout His Career as Lakers Owner
He'll be remembered as the sometimes-outspoken but usually reserved owner of the Lakers who was keen to make his opinion heard, but ultimately left the day-to-day operations and player management up to the guys he hired.
Under that philosophy, he became one of the most successful owners in the NBA, overseeing multiple championships and watching as the team missed the playoffs just twice in his tenure of owning the team.
Jerry bought the franchise in 1979 along with the Los Angeles Kings and oversaw the team as it won five championships throughout the 1980s under the leadership of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Buss then witnessed five more with Phil Jackson at the helm of squads led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.
Buss had yielded power to his son Jim after the team parted ways with Phil Jackson back in 2011, but he remained an undeniable presence with the team until his final days.
Buss oversaw a team with a losing record just three times throughout his career with the Lakers; unfortunately one of them happened to be (at least so far) his last season with the team.
He started his career with a very good team that had just drafted a guy who would be one of the most important players in basketball history. Magic Johnson would help bring him five championships between 1980 and 1988.
Buss oversaw the team as Magic Johnson was diagnosed with HIV and eventually driven out of the league, save a brief reprise in 1996.
Over the course of the '90s, the Lakers would ebb and flow, but the acquisition of Shaq and Kobe brought in a new era of Lakers dominance—which shouldn't be surprising, as the eras aren't too far apart.
Shaq and Kobe went on to win their first championship as a duo in 2000, cruising to two more in succession as they played some of the most dominant basketball in the history of the game.
Ultimately the team broke up after a failed experiment starring Shaq, Kobe, Karl Malone and Gary Payton, and Buss watched as his team either struggled to make the playoffs or missed them altogether.
Buss continued to run the game as he always had: observing from afar, chiming in every now and then and letting Mitch Kupchak run things as best he could.
Over the years, it was common to see Buss at a poker tournament, competing in multiple World Series of Poker events and even placing third in a seven-card tournament back in 1991.
As the 2000s wore on, Buss and the Lakers grew old together, but found their way back to success as the team struck gold with a trade for Pau Gasol back in 2008, giving them a chance at two more championships in 2009 and 2010.
2011 came around, the team was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs and Phil Jackson's contract wasn't renewed.
It was a new era for the Lakers. Jerry had given his son Jim the opportunity to choose Jackson's replacement, and it seemed he supported the new hire, Mike Brown, every step of the way.
The lockout ended late in 2011, and the Lakers watched as another season and another second-round elimination led to the overhaul of the team this past summer, as it brought in Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and, eventually, Mike D'Antoni.
It's unfortunate the Lakers have disappointed thus far this season, but there's no doubt the franchise will continue to be inspired by the longtime owner and Hall of Famer.
Jerry Buss will always be remembered as one of the biggest men in this sport of giants, controlling a team for years that was consistently successful and always noteworthy.
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