Jerry Buss, the Los Angeles Lakers owner who transformed the team into the glamour franchise of a revitalized NBA, died on Monday at the age of 79, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Buss had been reported to be in hospital last week fighting an undisclosed form of cancer.
Buss purchased the Lakers, their former Forum arena, the Los Angeles Kings National Hockey League team and a 13,000-acre Kern County ranch from Jack Kent Cooke for $67.5 million in 1979.
When Buss bought the Lakers, they had won one championship in the previous 25 seasons.
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 $100 million, but they were recently valued by Forbes magazine as being worth $1 billion -- second in the NBA only to the New York Knicks.
Buss's 10 championships as an owner are the most in NBA history and he was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Buss has handed over control of the franchise to son Jim, who looks after the basketball side of the club, while his daughter Jeanie oversees business matters.