LOS ANGELES -- Basketball fans in Los Angeles, Calif. are mourning the death of Dr. Jerry Buss, beloved team owner of the LA Lakers.
LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa noted that Buss was more than an NBA franchise owner; he was "a cornerstone of the Los Angeles sports community."
"Today we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of a man who helped shape the modern landscape of sports in LA," said Villaraigosa in a press release.
Buss was also unusually beloved among his players, notes AP, treating them like members of his extended family. Laker player Pau Gasol tweeted his condolences to the Buss family:
Today is a very sad day for all the Lakers and basketball. All my support and condolences to the Buss family. Rest in peace Dr. Buss.
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) February 18, 2013
Magic Johnson, leader of Buss' "Showtime" Lakers in the 1980s, tweeted this message in memory of him:
My thoughts and prayers are with the family & friends of Dr. Jerry Buss. He was a great man and an incredible friend.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) February 18, 2013
Of course, Buss' legacy extended far beyond the boundaries of a basketball stadium or even Laker fandom. Twitter user Matt Bilinksy sums up Buss' contribution to Los Angeles as a whole in this message:
There is literally ONE thing that brings the people of LA together & gives them a sense of community. And we have Jerry Buss to thank for it
— Matt Bilinsky (@mattbilinsky) February 18, 2013
Buss died Monday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital at the age of 80. He had been hospitalized for cancer but the immediate cause of death was kidney failure, confirmed assistant Bob Steiner to the Associated Press.
Under Buss' leadership, the Lakers won 10 NBA championships and made it to the finals 16 times. He was also a pioneer in the NBA world because of his business acumen: he spent huge sums on top players and coaches, co-founded a sports channel and sold naming rights to the stadium before it was commonplace to do so, notes AP.
UPDATE: In a statement posted on the Lakers site, the Buss Family writes, "We not only have lost our cherished father, but a beloved man of our community and a person respected by the world basketball community."
The Buss family praised Dr. Buss for his "amazing strength and will to live" during an 18-month long battle with cancer and vowed to carry on his "unparalleled legacy" at the helm of the LA Lakers.
He leaves behind six children, eight grandchildren, a former wife, two half-siblings and a step-brother. In lieu of flowers, the Buss family has requested that donors make a contribution to either their charity of choice or the Lakers Youth Foundation.
Angelenos posted moving tributes to Dr. Buss' legacy on Twitter. Scroll through to see their messages and add your own in the comments below.