Gerald Hatten “Jerry” Buss M.S., Ph.D. is the owner of the Los Angeles Lakers professional basketball team along with other professional sports franchises in Southern California. He was announced as a member of the 2010 induction class of the Basketball Hall of Fame on April 5, 2010, and was formally enshrined as a contributor to the sport on August 13 of that year.
Buss worked his way through the University of Wyoming, graduating with a B.S. degree in two and a half years in 1953. He moved to Los Angeles and attended the University of Southern California, where he earned a M.S. and Ph.D. in physical chemistry by age 24.
Buss started as a chemist for the Bureau of Mines ; he then briefly worked in the aerospace industry and was on the faculty of USC’s chemistry department. He originally went into real estate in order to provide an income so he could continue teaching. His first investment in the 1960s was $1,000 in a West Los Angeles apartment building. Finding great success, he pursued real estate full time. In 1979 Jerry purchased Pickfair Mansion in Beverly Hills from the estate of Mary Pickford. He was also the co-owner of a real estate company called Mariani-Buss Associates with his long time business partner Frank Mariani.
Buss became an owner in World Team Tennis. He purchased the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA along with the Los Angeles Kings hockey team of the NHL, The Forum, and a large ranch from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979. The purchase price, $67.5 million, made it the largest transaction in sports history at that time. Buss later sold the Kings, retaining ownership of the Lakers and The Forum. He then reached a major advertising agreement with Great Western Bank for the naming rights to The Forum, resulting in the official name of the building being changed to the Great Western Forum.