Former players mourn Lakers owner Jerry Buss

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 today 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."

%@AP Links

138-v-26-(Mark Meyers, correspondent)--The NBA has lost one of its most successful owners. Correspondent Mark Meyers has more. (18 Feb 2013)

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130-v-29-(Jim Bell, AP correspondent)--Flamboyant Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss has passed away. AP correspondent Jim Bell has more on the man who ran Southern California's most beloved sports franchise. (18 Feb 2013)

<<CUT *130 (02/18/13)>> 00:29

GRAPHICSBANK: Jerry Buss headshot, as Los Angeles Lakers owner, over textured background and Los Angeles Lakers logo, partial graphic (18 Feb 2013)

APPHOTO NY163: FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2010 file photo, 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. Buss, the Lakers' playboy owner who shepherded the NBA franchise to 10 championships, has died. He was 80. Bob Steiner, an assistant to Buss, confirmed Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 that Buss had died in Los Angeles. Further details were not available.(AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File) (26 Oct 2010)

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APPHOTO NY165: FILE - In this Aug. 23, 2005 file photo, Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss watches the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks play the Minnesota Lynx in Los Angeles. Buss, the Lakers' playboy owner who shepherded the NBA franchise to 10 championships, has died. He was 80. Bob Steiner, an assistant to Buss, confirmed Monday, Feb. 18, 2013 that Buss had died in Los Angeles. Further details were not available. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File) (20 Aug 2005)

<<APPHOTO NY165 (08/20/05)>>

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