Miami HEAT president and former Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley issued a statement today after the death of longtime Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss. The Lakers won one championship with Riley as an assistant coach in 1980, just one year after Buss bought the team, and won four more titles in the 1980s with Riley as their head coach.
"Today, in the world of sports, we have lost a true giant. Jerry Buss was more than just an owner. He was one of the great innovators that any sport has ever encountered. He was a true visionary and it was obvious with the Lakers in the 80's that ‘Showtime' was more than just Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It was really the vision of a man who saw something that connected with a community. I was privileged to be part of that for 10 years and even more grateful for the friendship that has lasted all these many years. I have always come to realize that if it weren't for Dr. Buss, I wouldn't be where I am today. I owe my start in professional coaching to him, and I will always hold him and his memory in the highest of regards. Chris and I truly love Jerry Buss. He was a great friend and will be missed."
Less than an hour later, the Miami HEAT issued a team statement of their own:
"The Miami HEAT expresses its condolences to the Buss Family, Laker Nation and the entire NBA for the loss of Dr. Jerry Buss. He was an extraordinary man and a true visionary for this sport. The legacy and record of achievement by the Lakers during his stewardship is obvious and part of the history books, but his friendship and the tremendous counsel and leadership he brought to the NBA has profoundly impacted this league, the game of basketball and the world of sports. We are all very thankful for his presence and mourn today for the loss of our true friend."