Lakers Owner Jerry Buss in Intensive Care with Cancer

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LOS ANGELES — Lakers owner Jerry Buss has an undisclosed form of cancer and is in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to several people familiar with the situation.

“He’s doing fine,” Buss’ son Jim told The Times in a brief interview Thursday. “We just aren’t going to make any comments on it. We’ve been dealing with this.”

jerry-bussBuss, 80, has not attended any games this season after being a fixture in his luxury suite halfway up the arena behind the Lakers’ bench.

He maintained an extremely low public profile last year, emerging briefly to release a complimentary statement about Derek Fisher when the longtime Lakers guard was traded in a rare cost-cutting move in March.

Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have visited Buss at various stages since finding out about his condition, which was diagnosed at an unknown point last year.

Said O’Neal on Twitter on Thursday: “Dr. Jerry Buss, thinking about u & wish I could be there, get well soon. I cant wait 2 see u on 4/2/13 #LoveYou #Lakers.”

O’Neal is having his Lakers jersey retired April 2 at Staples Center.

Buss has been in the hospital numerous times the last two years. He underwent an undisclosed surgery last August and was admitted a month earlier for what the team called dehydration.

He was also hospitalized in December 2011 for blood clots in his leg caused by excessive travel, according to the team.

Over the years, Buss has gradually handed more power to his daughter Jeanie, in charge of the business side of the team, and Jim, who oversees basketball operations.

Before his most recent medical issues, Buss continued to take part in decision making for the Lakers.

Buss weighed in on the hiring of Coach Mike D’Antoni in November.

And a few months before that, was eager to meet Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, high-profile Lakers additions who visited him separately after being acquired.

A former Lakers player was saddened by news of Buss’ declining health.

“I just know how much he loved the game,” said Clippers forward Lamar Odom, who won two championships in seven years with the Lakers.

“I know how much he put into it, whether it was traveling with us or just his effort that he put into us winning. He was the best. He was always close to his team and his players. It’s tough to hear about that.”

Buss received a doctorate in physical chemistry from USC, but it was a $1,000 investment in a Los Angeles apartment building that ultimately sparked a career in real-estate investment.

In 1979, Buss bought the Lakers from Jack Kent Cooke, along with the Forum, the NHL’s Kings (which he later sold), and a ranch in the Sierra Nevada for a total of $67.5 million.

The Lakers franchise, buoyed by a lucrative TV deal with Time Warner Cable, was recently valued at $1 billion by Forbes magazine.

Only one other NBA franchise, the New York Knicks, was deemed more valuable.

The Lakers have won 10 NBA championships since Buss purchased the team and 16 overall, one behind the Boston Celtics.

They are continually among the top-spending teams in player salary, and this season is no different.

They have a $100-million payroll, the NBA’s highest, and face luxury-tax penalties of another $30 million in an overwhelmingly disappointing season so far.

“When it comes down to it, Dr. Buss is a competitor,” Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak said when Howard was acquired in a four-team trade in August.

“And when it comes down to a decision about making a couple of dollars or a million dollars or $10 million or putting another banner up, he can’t help himself. He chooses to go for the banner.”

Los Angeles Times

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  • Charlie

    Get well soon doctor buss I know you can do it.
    I'm a lakers fan and had folloewed the team when you took over as ownership since the early 70, and I admired you greatly.
    And I pray for your speedy recovery.

  • Orenthal J. Simpson

    Too bad this guy has a drinking problem. His alcohol and drunk driving arrests did not help his cancer treatments. He's an alcoholic sob.

      • Orenthal j. Simpson

        SicknTired, You should be with all these drunks out there. I never said he killed anyone in my family. I only stated he was an alcoholic and drunk driver because there's already known. It's only a matter of time that a drunk driver kills someone. I don't condone drunk driving. When you have time, see if you can take a tour of the LA Coroners on a Fri or Sat night.

        • SicknTired

          That is how your post came off so maybe a writing class is on your best interest instead of playing keyboard cowboy, judge, and ruler of the internet. There are plenty of people who've been convicted of drunk driving that have, thankfully, never killed a soul and learned their lesson.

          Dr Buss has done far more good in this world than he has bad and maybe one day you might reach 1% of his philanthropy and generosity. To cal him an SOB sounds like sour grapes from someone with a bitter grudge. if it's just against drunk drivers than I suggest you go after the habitual offenders with your vitriol.

          Thanks for the link. toured the LA Coroner's office a few times as well as a few others. Been to a few accident scenes of drunk drivers as well so you're preaching to the choir.

  • nike

    my classmate's mother-in-law makes $85 an hour on the internet. She has been without work for 5 months but last month her pay check was $18468 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this web site

  • Phil Spector

    I just hope someone fills this alcoholics iv bottle with Southern Comfort! Other wise he won't survive. It's too late for treatment. He was to busy spending his money on alcohol and women.

  • Guillermo

    Dr. Buss,

    Thank for all the great memories you have brought the city of LA. Some of those moments are my fondest childhood memories. who can ever forget beating the Celtics at their home court in 85? I hope you recover soon.