LOS ANGELES, California - Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers owner who transformed the team into the glamour franchise of a revitalised NBA, died yesterday at the age of 80.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center spokeswoman Sally Stewart said Buss died at 5.55 am.
He had been reported to be in hospital last week fighting an undisclosed form of cancer.
Buss made the Lakers one of the biggest draws in Los Angeles with a combination of shrewd personnel moves on and off the court and a feel for show business glamour.
The Lakers have the highest payroll in the NBA at $US100 million, but they were recently valued by Forbes magazine as being worth $US1 billion -- second in the NBA only to the New York Knicks.
At the NBA All-Star weekend festivities on Friday, Kobe Bryant said Buss's contribution to the NBA and the game of basketball was "beyond measure".
"I don't think there's any way to really define it," the Lakers superstar said.
"What he's done, it's tough to really find a match for that in any sport.
"He's been a model of consistency," Bryant said.