Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss is being treated for cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to a source familiar with the situation.
A Lakers spokesman declined to comment out of respect for Buss' privacy. A hospital spokesperson also declined to comment about Buss, citing privacy laws.
Former and current Lakers have visited Buss, 79, in the hospital, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace.
"Dr. Jerry Buss, thinking about u & wish I could be there," former Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal tweeted Thursday. "Get well soon."
Before his recent health issues, Buss was still involved in the decision-making processes for the Lakers.
He was strongly in favor of the Lakers hiring Mike D'Antoni in hopes of restoring "Showtime" featuring fast-paced basketball. He also met Dwight Howard and Steve Nash this offseason shortly after the Lakers acquired them.
Buss has owned the Lakers since 1979, when he purchased the team along with the Forum, the NHL's Kings and a 13,000-acre ranch in Kern County for $67 million from Jack Kent Cooke. Since then, the Lakers have become one of the sport's top franchises, winning 10 of their 16 NBA championships under Buss' watch. That's only one shy of the Lakers' rival, the Boston Celtics.
"Everybody knows he's laid the foundation for a lot of years," said D'Antoni, who said he's never met Buss in person. "This is the best franchise in the NBA. He means a lot."
The Lakers were recently listed by Forbes Magazine as the second-most-valuable team in the NBA at $1 billion, trailing the New York Knicks.
Part of that value has increased because of a lucrative 20-year deal with Time Warner Cable SportsNet.
The Lakers also remain one of the NBA's top spending team. They currently lead the league, with a $100 million payroll and face $30 million in luxury taxes in a season filled with doubt about their postseason fortunes.
"I've read what's been reported, but it's a family matter," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said at Staples Center Thursday during the Lakers-Clippers game. "I'm not really going to get into it."
But in a wide-ranging interview with this newspaper in October, Kupchak praised Buss on how his vision has largely contributed to the Lakers' success.
"Dr. Buss has always been looked at as a gambler and not afraid of risk," Kupchak said. "That's the ownership's DNA. Jimmy has it, too."
Kupchak was referring to Buss' son, the team's executive vice president of player personnel. Buss' daughter, Jeanie, is the team's executive vice president of business operations. Buss has gradually handed more power to them.
"It's been a great transition that started seven, eight years ago," Kupchak said in October on working with Jim Buss. "Now, he and I work exclusively together. I'll still meet with Dr. Buss. But Jimmy and I work on the big picture together."
In recent years, Buss has experienced declining health and has gradually ceded more control of the Lakers. He had surgery Aug. 9 for undisclosed reasons. Buss was hospitalized in July for dehydration. In December 2011, he was hospitalized to treat blood clots in his legs. The Lakers then attributed that to excessive travel.
Buss used to regularly attend Lakers games at Staples Center in his luxury suite. But he has not attended any games this season.
The Lakers and the Buss family also released a statement three weeks ago shooting down suggestions they might sell the franchise to an outside group.
"We unanimously agree that we have no intention of ever selling the Lakers, and intend to keep ownership of the team in our family for generations to come," the statement read.