By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
An HBO series covering the rise of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1980s, owned at the time by former Wyoming resident Jerry Buss, will debut this weekend.
“Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” will premiere on Sunday night on HBO. Check local listings for times.
Buss spent the majority of his adolescence in Kemmerer, and graduated with a bachelor of science degree from the University of Wyoming in 1953. He managed to complete the degree in just two and one-half years.
Buss spent years working as a chemist and a professor at the University of Southern California, where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees, and then purchased the Lakers, along with the hockey team the Los Angeles Kings and several real estate properties,in 1979 for $67 million.
During his tenure as owner, the Lakers won 10 NBA championships and featured some of the greatest players of all time, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neil and the late Kobe Bryant.
Buss owned the Lakers until his death in 2013. He was 80.
His death was widely mourned in the sports and entertainment community, with many praising his work to improve the Lakers’ status during his ownership.
“Dr. Buss was just a fun-loving guy. He was very intelligent, he studied history, he could quote things. But the man was very competitive, as well,” Magic Johnson said at the time of his death. “He wanted to win championships. He brought all of us in to do that…and at the same time he wanted to be friends to the players.”
“I’m deeply saddened over da loss of the great Dr. Jerry Buss. He was a dear friend, mentor, and brilliant business mind thank u 4 8 gr8 yrs,” O’Neill tweeted at the time.
“Learned of Lakers owner Jerry Buss death to cancer. We’ve lost a longtime friend,” the late Playboy owner Hugh Hefner said at the time.
“He just understood fans, entertainment, players, how to balance all of it together, how to deal with the NBA,” billionaire Mark Cuban said about Buss one year after his death.
Buss passed on ownership of the Lakers to his six children and his daughter, Jeanie Buss, is currently the team’s president.
In the HBO series, Buss will be portrayed by actor John C. Reilly, known for his roles in “Step Brothers” and “Talladega Nights,” Michael Shannon, known for his roles in “Man of Steel” and “The Shape of Water,” was initially cast to play Buss, but dropped out after filming the show’s pilot episode due to creative differences.