Take Two for February 18, 2013

The impact of LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss on the NBA & beyond

Obit Jerry Buss

Uncredited/AP

In this June 18, 1981 file photo, Jerry Buss holds a Los Angeles Lakers shirt in Los Angeles. Buss died Monday, Feb. 18, 2013. Buss, the Lakers' playboy owner who shepherded the NBA franchise to 10 championships, has died. He was 79. Bob Steiner, an assistant to Buss, confirmed Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 that Buss had died in Los Angeles. Further details were not available.

Los Angeles Lakers Victory Party

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Phil Jackson, Jeanie Buss and Dr. Jerry Buss at a Los Angeles Lakers victory party hosted by owner Dr. Jerry Buss and coach Phil Jackson at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, Sunday, June 16, 2002.

Bodog.Com At The 3rd Annual Lakers Casino Night

Vince Bucci/Getty Images

Dr. Jerry Buss, actress Bai Ling and television personality Rossi Morreale play poker at the Los Angeles Lakers 3rd annual Mirage Las Vegas Casino Night and Bodog Celebrity Poker Invitational benefiting Los Angeles Lakers Youth Foundation at Barker Hangar on April 12, 2006 in Santa Monica.

Sacramento Kings v Los Angeles Lakers

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss appears before his team's preseason game against the Sacramento Kings at the Thomas & Mack Center Oct. 12, 2008 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Hugh Hefner Celebrates 77th Birthday At Lakers Game

David Klein/Getty Images

Publisher Hugh Hefner, Lakers Owner Jerry Buss, Playboy Playmates and a KCAL 9 News reporter pose to celebrate Hefner's 77th birthday April 10, 2003 at the Staples Center.

Friars Club Honors Earvin Magic Johnson

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Dr. Jerry Buss at the Friars Club in Beverly Hills, Ca. to honor and roast Earvin "Magic" Johnson with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday, Oct. 27, 2002.

Rockets Lakers Basketball

Chris Carlson/AP

Los Angeles Laker owner Jerry Buss, right, walks out onto the court during the NBA championship ring ceremony as Kobe Bryant, left, and Derek Fisher look on before a basketball game against the Houston Rockets in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010.


A big loss for L.A. sports this morning.

Lakers owner Jerry Buss, 80, died today at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from kidney failure, confirmed his assistant  Bob Steiner. He had been hospitalized since last week for cancer treatment.

RELATED: (UPDATE) A remembrance: LA Lakers owner Jerry Buss, 80, dies (Photos)

Dr. Buss, as he preferred to be called, bought the Lakers in 1979 and transformed the sport in addition to helping the team win 10 NBA titles. Dr. Buss is also credited with turning the NBA into an entertainment powerhouse.

"Dr. Buss had a vision of showtime," said author Roland Lazenby, who has written five books on the Lakers. "He essentially connected this very backwater business of the NBA to the entertainment of Hollywood. I think one thing in particular is the sexuality of that: He invented the Laker girls, he created this show, and with that he brought this sexuality to the NBA that was somewhat jarring for other franchises."

One of the impacts he had on the game was the use of the court side seats to advertise the game. Before, these prime seats would go to press or media, but now only celebrities, VIPs, and those who can afford to shell out big bucks for tickets are privy to the court side area in constant view of the television cameras.

"One of the things he helped to do was to capitalize NBA teams as he began selling those seats on a nightly basis for hundreds of dollars then thousands of dollars," said Lazenby. "The whole financial structure began to shift, as did the seating for the press which went from court side to the upper deck."

In recent years Buss had moved aside from his once-prominent role to allow his sons Jim and John, and his daughter Jeanie run the team. 

Last year was a tumultuous year for the team, with the firing of coach Mike Brown and the hiring of Mike D'Antoni. So what can fans expect now that Buss is out of the picture and his three grown children at the helm?

"There's been a sort of a tug of war all along," said Lazenby. "Jeanie and Jim both have a large role with the team, and so trying to decide which way they go forward will be a big factor. The Lakers have always been the kind of organization – for all the glitz – that counted paper clips, so it will be interesting to see what happens from this point on."


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