1. Jerry Buss
Los Angeles Lakers (1979-present)
Championships: 1980, ’82, ’85, ’87, ’88, 2000, ’01, ’02, ’09 and ’10
When Jerry Buss bought the Lakers from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979, they were a franchise best known for almost winning. Since moving to Los Angeles in 1960, the Lakers had won one NBA championship but lost in the Finals an astounding eight times.
In his first season as owner, Buss added Magic Johnson to a team already featuring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the Lakers won the championship. Two years later Buss fired coach Paul Westhead, replacing him with Pat Riley, and the “Showtime” Lakers were in full swing as the team of the 1980s. Buss and the Lakers kept adding stars to the lineup, and championships came with them. None was sweeter than the 1985 title, in which the Lakers finally defeated their nemesis, the Boston Celtics, in the Finals.
Buss and the Lakers had a dry period in the 1990s before the era of Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant brought more trophies to the franchise. Buss, who passed away Monday morning, did more than just win championships. He made L.A. a Laker town and the Lakers the marquee franchise of the NBA.