Lakers owner Jerry Buss died this morning at age 79, after a secret hospital stay, TMZ reports. News broke last week that Buss had for months been hospitalized for an undisclosed form of cancer, though at the time family members said he was "doing fine," USA Today reports. Buss, who made his fortune in real estate, has owned the Lakers since 1979, a span that includes 10 championships and the celebrated "Showtime" era, an LA Times obituary observes.
"He's meant everything to me," Kobe Bryant reflected on Friday, "in terms of taking a risk on a 17-year-old kid coming out of high school and then believing in me my entire career. And then for the game itself, the brand of basketball that he implemented in Showtime carried the league."