He was 80.
Bob Steiner, an assistant to Buss, confirmed Monday that he died in Los Angeles. Further details were not available.
Buss had been in the intensive care unit at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with cancer, according to a report last week from the Los Angeles Times, and he had been visited ahead of All-Star Weekend by several current and former Lakers players, including Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson.
Throughout the weekend, current and past NBA players had been sending their well-wishes his way, via Twitter.
A former aerospace engineer and real-estate developer, Buss has been a prominent name in American sports since he bought the Lakers, the NHL's Los Angeles Kings, The Forum arena in Inglewood, Calif., and a 13,000-acre Southern California ranch from Jack Kent Cooke in 1979 for $67 million.
Buss, a self-styled playboy, immediately transformed the Lakers into the NBA's most glamorous franchise, winning 10 NBA championships under his watch.
"I really tried to create a Laker image, a distinct identity," Buss said, according to the Times' obituary. "I mean, the Lakers are pretty damn Hollywood."
Still, at the time of his purchase of the franchise, the NBA had fallen into second-class status among major professional sports leagues as several teams stood on the brink of bankruptcy.
In the Lakers, Buss—who would also become a world-class poker player—saw a gamble worth taking. They already had center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and the team picked the effervescent Johnson out of Michigan State in the 1979 draft.
With former Lakers star Jerry West maturing into a gifted general manager, the team won an NBA championship in Buss’ first season as owner.
Johnson, Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Cooper guided the Lakers to five titles in nine years.
By the time of his death, Forbes had placed the team’s value at $1 billion, second-highest in the NBA behind only the New York Knicks, as of last month.
"Jerry Buss helped set the league on the course it is on today," NBA commissioner David Stern told the Times. "Remember, he showed us it was about 'Showtime,' the notion that an arena can become the focal point for not just basketball, but entertainment. He made it the place to see and be seen."
Under Buss, the front-row seats at Lakers games became prized spots, a place that attracted Hollywood's most beautiful, including actors, musicians and other LA celebrities and power players.
After the Lakers’ 1980s resurgence, Shaquille O'Neal and Bryant led the Lakers to a three-peat from 2000-02 under coach Phil Jackson before Bryant and Pau Gasol won two more titles in 2009 and ’10, their last under Buss.
His children have moved into leadership roles with the Lakers in recent years. Jim Buss, the Lakers' executive vice president of player personnel and the second of Buss' six children, has taken a leading role in basketball decisions, while daughter Jeanie plays a major role in running the franchise's business side.
Yet Jerry Buss was deeply involved the Lakers' most recent major moves, including the acquisitions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard last summer, along with the quick-trigger firing of coach Mike Brown and the surprise hiring of Mike D'Antoni early this season.
None of those moves has been particularly successful. The team is outside the top eight in the Western Conference standings at the All-Star break, and if it fails to make the playoffs could be considered one of the most disappointing teams in NBA history, if not professional sports history given expectations going into the season.
Buss had been hospitalized several times in recent years, including a stint last July for dehydration. He was treated for blood clots in his legs in December 2011.
Jerry Hatten Buss was born Jan. 27, 1933, in Salt Lake City, and his parents divorced when he was an infant. He married at 19 and shortly thereafter moved to Southern California, where he would earn a doctorate in chemistry and work briefly in the aerospace industry.
In the late 1950s, he and a colleague, Frank Mariani, formed a real-estate investment company that grew to earn them a fortune in residential properties, hotels and office buildings.