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Former players mourn Lakers owner Jerry Buss

Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Image Source: ABC News
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Magic Johnson is remembering Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss as "a great man and an incredible friend."

The Twitter tribute followed news that Buss died Monday at a Los Angeles hospital at the age of 80. He'd been hospitalized for most of the past 18 months while undergoing cancer treatment.

Under the ownership of Buss since 1979, the Lakers became Southern California's most beloved sports franchise, and became linked in the eyes of the world to Hollywood glamour.

And few owners in sports history can rival his success. The Lakers made the NBA finals 16 times since Buss bought the team, winning 10 times between 1980 and 2010. The team is now largely run by two of his six children, Jim Buss and Jeanie Buss.

Jerry Buss always referred to the Lakers as his extended family, and the players rewarded his fan-like excitement with devotion and friendship, in addition to the ten championships. Magic Johnson and fellow Hall-of-Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy formed lifelong bonds with Buss.

Courtside seats for the Lakers are the hottest tickets in Hollywood -- with Jack Nicholson and many other celebrities attending every home game.

NBA Commissioner David Stern is remembering Buss as a "visionary owner" whose impact on the league "will be felt for decades to come."

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