"I hope he plays for many, many more years," Buss, the Lakers' controlling owner, told The Athletic's Sam Amick. "But whatever his term is with the Lakers, he has forever left his mark on this team and this organization and on me.
"He is somebody that I treasure, and I will protect. I have just enjoyed watching him play and nurture along his teammates and bring out the best in them. He really is the most unique person in the league today."
With injuries slowing him, James was unable to snap the Lakers' playoff drought during his first year in purple and gold. However, as fellow superstar Anthony Davis flanks him, a healthy James is fresh off a season when he averaged 25.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, and a league-leading 10.2 assists per game at the age of 35, pacing Los Angeles to a Western Conference-leading 52-19 (.732) record.
Now the 16-time All-Star is four wins away from capturing a fourth career title.
"I couldn’t be more proud that he’s a Laker," Buss added. "He belongs as part of our history, and he’s bringing this franchise back to where it should be."
Game 1 of the 2020 NBA Finals - with the Lakers facing James' former Heat team - tips off Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.