Sources: Lakers owner Jerry Buss hospitalized
Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss is hospitalized with cancer, multiple media outlets in the city reported Thursday.
Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss is hospitalized, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.
A Lakers spokesman declined to comment on the situation out of respect for the family's privacy. A hospital spokesman wouldn't confirm whether Buss was at the hospital.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Buss, 80, has an undisclosed form of cancer. The paper said he has spent time in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, citing "multiple team personnel."
Buss has been in and out of the hospital for the past two years. The Lakers confirmed he was in the hospital in December 2011 for blood clots in his leg, which they said was caused by excessive travel.
Buss has passed the day-to-day operation of the team on to his children, Jim (who oversees basketball operations) and Jeanie (who oversees the business side of the franchise). He was involved, however, in the offseason acquisition of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, and in the in-season coaching move that fired Mike Brown and hired Mike D'Antoni.
ESPN.com's Rick Reilly quoted Nash in a column two weeks ago about his first meeting with Buss.
"I went to the hospital in September, and we had a great talk," Nash said. "It was supposed to be five minutes, but we talked for about an hour. You could see he was fighting something big, but he still had a great spirit, a great mind. He's still full of life."
The Times reported that a number of current and former Lakers have visited Buss in the hospital in recent months.
"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," tweeted Shaquille O'Neal.
Buss has owned the team since 1979, when he purchased the Lakers, the Forum, the Los Angeles Kings hockey team and real estate from Jack Kent Cooke. The team has won 10 of its 16 titles under Buss' ownership.
"He's extremely, extremely intelligent and extremely patient," Kobe Bryant said following the Lakers' 125-101 loss to the Clippers on Thursday night. "He'll sit and he'll wait because he has his goals and he knows exactly where he wants to be and how to construct a ballclub. He's just extremely smart in how he goes about it. It's very rare to find that kind of owner who seemingly doesn't make any mistakes.
"I think if you look at the impact that he's had globally on the game, some of the decisions that he's made and the brand of basketball that he brought and the impact that's had on the sport as a whole -- his vibrations were felt all the way to a kid in Italy at 6 years old, before the sport was even global. His impact is worldwide."
Clippers forward Ronny Turiaf, who was drafted by the Lakers in 2005, said that Dr. Buss saved his life when he paid for all Turiaf's medical treatment after doctors discovered an enlarged aortic root in his heart. The Lakers were forced to void his contract, but they held on to his rights and supported him during his recovery.
"He saved my life. He allowed me to continue my career in the NBA," Turiaf said after Thursday night's game. "He was always very open to any kind of conversation with me and took interest in me as a human being. Not only him, but also Jim. When I played in Yakima, Wash., in the CBA, Jim came to see me play. Dr. Buss and Jim, they've always reached out over the years.
"When you're going through something like that and you're faced with a life-and-death situation, you are thankful that somebody is kind enough to do that. Surprised is not the word -- it's thankful."
The Lakers were recently valued at $1 billion by Forbes magazine, the second most valuable team in the NBA behind the New York Knicks.
ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne contributed to this report.
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