Remembering Jerry Buss

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Basketball fans will remember the real estate mogul for enjoying extraordinary NBA success as owner of the Lakers — they won 10 championships in three-plus decades — but equally important to his legacy was a sense of showmanship.

Click below to explore.

Jerry Buss brought 'Showtime' to L.A.
 Jerry Buss' everlasting purple and bold effect
Jerry Buss showed what Showtime could be worth
Jerry Buss and Earvin Johnson made magic together
And now, the rest of the story about Jerry Buss
It was USC that made him Dr. Jerry Buss
How Jerry Buss came to own the Lakers, the Kings and the Forum
Jerry Buss didn't just put the Kings on ice
Jerry Buss used team tennis, roller hockey to train his children
Cashing in their championships
Lakers greats speak fondly of their time with Jerry Buss

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

Jerry Buss brought 'Showtime' success to L.A.

The frozen fields of Wyoming came first. Long before the championship trophies. Before the glitz and glamour. Jerry Buss was still a teenager, digging ditches beside his stepfather, when he dreamed of bigger things.

It was youthful ambition — a hunger for excitement — that led him to Southern California, where he amassed a fortune in real estate, traded it all to buy the Lakers, then became the man who transformed pro basketball from sport into spectacle.

"I really tried to create a Laker image, a distinct identity," he said years later. "I think we've been successful. I mean, the Lakers are pretty damn Hollywood."

[...Read the full story here.]

— By David Wharton

Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles times

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

Jerry Buss' everlasting purple and bold effect

Jerry Buss may be gone, but Jerry Buss hasn't gone anywhere. He may have died on Feb. 18 at age 80, but Jerry Buss lives.

When watching the Lakers makes you howl, when watching the NBA makes you smile, when watching anything in professional sports makes you tap your toe, Jerry Buss is there.

"He was nothing less than a transformational force in the history of sports," said NBA Commissioner David Stern at Buss' memorial service.

[...Read the full story here.]

— By Bill Plaschke

Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

Jerry Buss showed what Showtime could be worth

Jerry Buss brought 10 championships to Los Angeles with the Lakers and along the way he altered the way people experience professional sports.

"He changed the whole way that we went to a game: the Laker Girls, the whole fan experience, A-list people on the floor, the whole thing," Magic Johnson said. "Dr. Buss is the reason why the NBA is thriving the way it is."

When Buss purchased the Lakers (along with the Kings and the Forum) in 1979 for $67.5 million, he had a very specific vision.

[...Read the full story here.]

— By Eric Pincus

Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

Jerry Buss and Earvin Johnson made magic together

The beloved mentor and his favorite student spent their final hours together holding hands on a hospital bed.

Jerry Buss was entering the final stage of his life after a long battle with cancer, and he wanted to spend some of it with Magic Johnson.

Buss summoned Johnson to his room at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center last fall and, together, for five hours, they clutched each other and told stories and cried.

[...Read the full story here.]

— By Bill Plaschke

Reed Saxon / Associated Press

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

And now, the rest of the story about Jerry Buss

It took several cups of coffee and a couple of hours one recent morning to realize there was still so much more to know about Jerry Buss.

The coffee was shared with Bob Steiner, Buss' longtime public relations advisor and general confidant. We reminisced and rambled.

There were the general pearls: "He could never accept rebuilding," Steiner said. "That was him."

[...Read the full story here.]

— By Bill Dwyre

Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

It was USC that made him Dr. Jerry Buss

Jerry Buss did not enroll as a USC graduate student with aspirations of becoming one of the most successful owners in professional sports history.

As a youngster, he thought he might be a photographer. But in high school, he shifted his focus to becoming a chemist.

"I wanted to go on and teach school in a big university, preferably one with a really good football team," he once said in a television interview, "and that's why I went to USC."

[...Read the full story here.]

— By Gary Klein

Los Angeles Times

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

How Jerry Buss came to own the Lakers, the Kings and the Forum

Word got around that Jack Kent Cooke wanted to cash out.

It was 1977 and the Lakers owner had entered into a divorce that would eventually cost $41 million, a sum worthy of the Guinness World Records for the most costly marital split in history at that time.

His mounting legal bills created an opportunity for an eager buyer named Jerry Buss. The onetime chemist, now wealthy from the real estate boom, wanted to purchase not only the Lakers but also the Forum and the Kings.

[...Read the full story here.]

— By David Wharton

Associated Press

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

Jerry Buss didn't just put the Kings on ice

Jerry Buss was so strongly associated with the Lakers and their championships that it's easy to forget he was the Kings' second owner — and that they were more to him than a throw-in item when he bought the Lakers, the Forum, the Kings and a 13,000-acre ranch from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979.

Buss was more of a basketball fan than a hockey fan, but he put a lot of time and money into stabilizing and promoting the Kings. Soon after he took over, he signed high-scoring forward Marcel Dionne to a six-year contract worth a then-astonishing $600,000 a year, a pattern he followed with his NBA team.

"After the first year or two, he probably spent more time with Kings things than with the Lakers. My guess is he spent more time with George Maguire than with Jerry West," Bob Steiner, Buss' longtime spokesman, said of the general managers of the Kings and Lakers, respectively.

[...Read the full story here.]

— By Helene Elliott

George Rose / Allsport

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

Jerry Buss used team tennis, roller hockey to train his children

Tim Harris once played goalie for the Los Angeles Lazers, an indoor soccer team owned by Jerry Buss. Harris, now an executive with the Lakers, said that as he looks back it was obvious what Buss was doing.

"He was setting up these labs for his kids to learn," Harris said. "That's how Jeanie learned and that's how I learned. Jeanie and I chuckle at it now. It wasn't that long ago we were sitting in roller hockey league meetings and now we're sitting in NBA league meetings."

Buss earned his fame and accolades by owning the Lakers and Kings. He sold the Kings in 1987, after eight years of ownership.

[...Read the full story here.]

— By Diane Pucin

Gunther / For the Times

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

Cashing in their championships

"Showtime" began in the 1979-80 season as 20-year-old rookie Magic Johnson inspired this talented team to first in the Pacific Division. After four close games in the Finals, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, 33, turned in a 40-point performance in Game 5 despite spraining his ankle. With Abdul-Jabbar out, Johnson stepped up in Game 6 with 42 points and 15 rebounds.

The Lakers came into 1981-82 the season smarting from a surprising loss to Houston in the first round of the 1981 playoffs. With Johnson back from a knee injury and the additions of Coach Pat Riley and sixth man Bob McAdoo, the Lakers swept Phoenix and San Antonio (average margin of victory, 11 points) in going 12-2 in the playoffs.

Magic Johnson's 12.6 assists a game fueled Showtime and complemented the 22.0 and 17.6 scoring averages of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy. A year removed from yet another loss to Boston in the Finals, the Lakers finally got revenge. After a brutal 148-114 loss in Game 1, known as the "Memorial Day Massacre," L.A. came back to defeat Boston in the Finals for the first time.

[...Read the full story here.]

— From Times staff reports

Associated Press

Jerry Buss | 1933-2013

Lakers greats speak fondly of their time with Jerry Buss

At Jerry Buss' memorial service Feb. 21, more than a dozen speakers honored the longtime Lakers owner, who died Feb. 18 at age 80 after a battle with cancer. Below are some of the highlights from the service, which included speeches by some current and former Lakers legends.

Magic Johnson played for the Lakers from 1979 to 1991 and returned in the 1995-96 season. He and Buss hung out often, but Johnson didn't realize just how close they had become until he contracted HIV.

"When I announced HIV, I knew he was really a father figure in my life," Johnson said. "We cried for hours, him not knowing if I would be here 22 years later, thinking he would lose a son, an adopted son. He picked up the phone and started calling hospitals to make sure that I had the best healthcare possible, the best doctors."

[...Read the full story here.]

— By Melissa Rohlin

Kevork Djansezian / AFP / Getty Images

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