, the billionaire owner of the Los Angeles Lakers who turned the NBA multi-title winning franchise into ‘Hollywood’s team’ has died this morning of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. He was 80. His death occurred soon after he made a hugely lucrative deal $4 billion/20-year deal to showcase the Lakers on their own Time Warner Cable
channel even though it meant rates would rise for cable subscribers. The former chemistry professor bought the team and other assets (The Forum, the Los Angeles Kings, and a 13,000 acre ranch) in 1979 for $67.5 million in what was then the largest sports deal in history. That was also the same year he purchased Pickfair in Beverly Hills, cementing his status as a Hollywood player. Then he spent freely for star players en route to 10 NBA championships to the delight of faithful fans like Hollywood moguls, agents, and Jack Nicholson
and Dyan Cannon
. Courtside seats remain coveted throughout the entertainment biz.