Jerry Buss

Sports innovator

No one sold the entertainment value of sports--while winning championships--better than Jerry Buss, longtime owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, who was 80 when he died on Feb. 18. After buying the team in 1979, he made his Lakers, led by charismatic, fast-breaking point guard Magic Johnson, into the perfect representatives of their town--Hollywood, baby!--and their times, the go-go '80s. The Lakers won 10 NBA titles during his tenure and helped rescue the league from its late-1970s malaise.

Buss, who earned a chemistry Ph.D. from USC at age 24, may have been the last of a breed: an owner who ran...

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