LOS ANGELES, Calif.–Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss remained hospitalized today as he battles an undisclosed form of cancer.
The team has made no comment about the 79-year-old Buss’ hospitalization or condition at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he is believed to be in intensive care. Some media reports have suggested Buss is in grave condition.
Buss’ son, Jim, told the Los Angeles Times his father was “doing fine.”
“We just aren’t going to make any comments on it. We’ve been dealing with this,” he told the paper.
Buss spent time in a hospital last summer for dehydration. In December 2011, he was hospitalized for treatment of blood clots in his legs that officials said were caused by extensive traveling.
In 1979, Buss purchased the Lakers, Forum, Los Angeles Kings hockey team and a 13,000-acre Kern County ranch from Jack Kent Cooke for $67.5 million, then the largest transaction in sports history.
When Buss purchased the team, it had won one championship in the previous 25 seasons, and had lost nine times in the NBA finals during that span, including four seven-game series.
Buss combined show business glamour and sex appeal with shrewd personnel moves–both on and off the court–to turn the Lakers into what NBA Commissioner David Stern once said was “the standard by which all L.A. sports franchises and most American franchises get measured.”
In Buss’ first season as owner, the Lakers won the NBA championship, then added four more titles in the following eight seasons, as the Magic Johnson-led, fast-breaking “Showtime” offense enthralled both the general public and celebrities–most notably Academy Award-winning actor Jack Nicholson–who became regulars in the courtside seats.
Under Buss, the Lakers became the first basketball team to have a dance squad, the Laker Girls, who also developed a devoted following and inspired creation of similar squads by every other team in the league.
The Lakers won three more NBA championships from 2000-2002 with teams led by Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Bryant-led teams won titles in 2009 and 2010.
The Lakers’ 10 championships under Buss’ ownership are the most by a team in any of the four major North American professional leagues since he purchased the team. Buss’ 10 championships as an owner are the most in NBA history.
Buss was selected for the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010. During the induction ceremony at the Springfield Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass., the site of the Hall of Fame, Buss said he was “probably happier than anyone” to be inducted “because most of the people that come up here have an inkling of the idea someday they may make the Hall of Fame.
“Believe me, when I was 21, I never thought I’d be enshrined,” Buss said during the ceremony On his Twitter page, O’Neal sent best wishes to Buss, writing that he was “thinking about u & wish I could be there. Get well soon. I can’t wait to see u on 4/2/13,” a reference to the date O’Neal is scheduled to have his jersey retired at Staples Center.
Bryant wrote, “We all LOVE our Dr. B!!”