Dr Buss' life traveled from a depression-era breadline to the University of Wyoming to USC. He was a Ph.D. in physical chemistry by the time he was 24, then founded a real estate empire with business partner Frank Mariani.
His success in real estate allowed him to purchase the Lakers in 1979.
I am not, nor ever have been, a fan of the NBA. I'm a Lakers fan. I was a fan of the Lakers before 1979, but Dr Buss drafted Magic Johnson that year to play with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, Norm Nixon, and Jamaal Wilkes...and won the first of 5 championships in the Showtime era under head coach Pat Riley.
Then Dr Buss brought Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal to be the core of a team that won 3 more championships under head coach Phil Jackson. Swap out O'Neal for Pau Gasol and add 2 more championships for a total of 10 during Dr Buss' ownership.
From 1979 to 2012, the Lakers won 10 championships in 16 finals appearances. They played in the finals 8 out of the 10 years in the 1980s. The only other franchise to have that kind of success in a 33 year span is Boston, which won 16 championships from 1957 to 1990, 8 of them in a row from 1959 to 1966.
I don't know much else about Dr Buss. I just know that he owned my favorite team and was responsible for bringing some of my favorite players to my favorite team. And that's good enough for me.
Gerald Hatten Buss
27 January 1933 - 18 February 2013