LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss has been elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, multiple sources within the organization confirmed.
Buss, who has been the owner of the Lakers since 1979 and has won nine NBA championships in Los Angeles, was among 19 finalists for the Hall of Fame, including Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Johnson, ex-WNBA star Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and longtime St. Anthony's High School coach Bob Hurley, who were reportedly elected as well.
An official announcement is expected Monday morning in Indianapolis, where the Final Four is being held. The induction ceremonies are scheduled for Aug. 13 in Springfield, Mass.
Buss, 77, helped usher in the "Showtime" era of the Lakers after purchasing the team along with the Los Angeles Kings, the Forum and a 13,000-acre Kern County ranch in 1979 for $67.5 million, then the largest transaction in sports history. Buss later sold everything but the Lakers, who are now primarily run by his son Jim and daughter Jeannie.
The Lakers had won only one championship in 25 years before Buss purchased the team. After drafting Magic Johnson with the first overall pick in the 1979 NBA draft and teaming him with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Lakers would win five championships over the next nine years while advancing to nine NBA Finals in 12 seasons.
With Buss at the helm, the Lakers became first NBA team to have a dance squad, the Laker Girls, and courtside seats became a living Hollywood Walk of Fame on game nights as Jack Nicholson became as synonymous with the Lakers as Pat Riley.
The Lakers have gone on to win four more championships this decade and currently have the second-best record in the league. The Lakers' nine championships under Buss' ownership are the most by a team in any of the four major North American professional leagues since he purchased the team.
"My dream really was to have the Lakers and Los Angeles identified as one and the same," Buss recently told ESPNLosAngeles.com "When I was just a fan, I used to really object when I would go to see the Lakers playing New York and most of the crowd would be ex-New Yorkers cheering for the Knicks. Then the next time, it would be the same with some other team. When you think New York, you think Yankees. I wanted that to be the case here as well. That when you think L.A., you think Lakers. I believe I've accomplished that."
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.