Legendary Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss passed away on Monday, Feb. 18 due to complications from cancer. The former chemistry professor bought the team in 1979, presided over the Showtime era of Magic Johnson and spent freely for star players en route to 10 NBA championships.
''Think about the impact that he's had on the game and the decisions he's made, and the brand of basketball he brought here with Showtime and the impact that had on the sport as a whole,'' Bryant said a few days ago. ''Those vibrations were felt to a kid all the way in Italy who was 6 years old, before basketball was even global.''
One of Buss's innovations was to introduce the concept of celebrities watching NBA games from court-side seats. The NBA commissioner, David Stern, said: "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."
Reports indicated that several current and former Lakers stars, including Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, recently had visited the team owner. Once a regular at Staples Center, Buss did not attend a game this season.