Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss (C), shown during a 2011 news conference, died Monday at the age of 80. UPI/Jim Ruymen | License Photo
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Jerry Buss, who owned the Los Angeles Lakers for more than 30 years at a time when the team won 10 NBA championships, has died. He was 80.
A release on the Lakers' website said Buss died Monday. He had been diagnosed with cancer and last week was said to be close to death.
Buss, a real estate investor, bought the Lakers, Los Angeles Kings of the NHL and the Forum, from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979. He sold the Kings in 1987.
The Lakers took just one season under Buss to pick up an NBA championship, defeating the Philadelphia 76ers for the title in 1980. The Lakers regularly added titles, including winning three consecutive NBA championships over 2000-02 and two more in 2009 and '10.
In addition to success on the court, Buss was credited with making the team's games a must-attend event in Los Angeles. Movie stars, notably Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon, occupied court-side seats.
"Jerry Buss helped set the league on the course it is on today," NBA Commissioner David Stern told the Los Angeles Times. "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."
Buss was born Jan. 27, 1933, in Salt Lake City. He earned a doctorate in chemistry from the University of California but made his fortune in real estate investment. He was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010 as a contributor to the game.