There’s “rich”, and then there’s “Wealth” to borrow a phrase from Chris Rock, and the real wealth and power behind the NBA rests in the hands of its ridiculously plush owners. BALLnROLL wanted to see how the members of that most exclusive club would stack up against each other, visa vie their teams seed in this year’s NBA playoffs. So while the players do battle on courts across America, we’re putting on the first annual Owner’s Championship, and putting business savvy against amassed fortune, to see who really comes out on top. Know your billionaires folks.
MIAMI Micky Arison vs Milwaukee Herb Kohl
He’s on a boat, he’s rich enough to buy your entire town, and Micky Arison, with a net worth of 5.7 Billion, dropped out of college way before it was cool. He took over the family shop, operating Carnival Cruiselines, and also put together a neat little basketball team that’s been making some noise these last few years. For putting together what is essentially the American Olympic team under one roof, he deserves at least some credit, insomuch as he keeps the lights on, but love him or hate him, this guy is at the top of the heap. His opponent, Herb Kohl, was a lefty US Senator for the great state of Wisconsin up until this January, and has fought off several suitors who wanted to buy and relocate the Bucks for years, making him a kind of Santa Claus for Milwaukee fans. He co-owns a grocery empire (Kohl’s, go figure) with his brother that keeps him very comfortable in his retirement from public office. But the poor fella is only worth around 215 million, and like the Bucks, he’s punching well above his weight. The fight gets nasty early, and Micky traps the Senator on a cruise ship for 40 days and 40 nights out at sea. Arison wins, but he’s about as popular as herpes.
James L. Dolan (New York) vs Irving/Wycliffe Grousbeck (Boston)
It’s the battle of the cable providers, and the war will be available for viewing with an extended monthly package! The one-two punch of a father son team is a hell of a lot to go up against, that’s why the Celtic’s Irving and Wyc Grousbeck duo can strut around like they own the place. Grousbeck the Senior founded Continental Cablevision out of college, and was responsible for pretty much everybody getting cable between the seventies and nineties. His kid is no slouch either, worth a cool 360 million at last count. Where Grousbeck senior was a self made man, his first round opponent was born into his cable empire. James Dolan may have been a failed musician, but under his command both the Knicks and his hockey team the Rangers have won exactly diddly squat, despite having the biggest fan base in the US. And the most iconic arena in the Western World as his private stomping grounds. The contest isn’t even close, father and son take Mr. Dolan and the MSG right to the cleaners, and it goes up on the Jumbotron.
Meet Herb. He’s a real estate Magnate, he’s fathered eight kids, and he’s worth a cool 2.2 Billion. His outfit, Simon Property group, controls over 242 million square ft across the world. Most of it’s lousy strip malls and what have you, but that’s still pretty impressive. His first round opponent is Bruce Levenson, on of a handful of the Hawk’s owners, but a monster figure in the business world you can be sure. He formed and still runs TechTarget Inc, an America supercompany responsible for quarterbacking all kinds of the tech projects that make the NASDAQ the American sweetheart it is. Good Old Herb may be a little past his prime, but the Atlanta ownership still doesn’t know shit from shinola when it comes to the NBA, and they’re pushovers to the man from Indy.
Mikhail Prokhorov (Brooklyn) vs Jerry Reinsdorf (Chicago)
You might be scratching your head over why we picked Prokhorov over Jay-Z, but even HOV’s estimated 500 Mil net worth is chump change compared to the Russian’s fortune. He’s the world’s 58th richest man, and also has the distinct honor of having run against one Mr. Putin in a general election and escaped unpoisoned. Even with all that cheddar, Mikhail has met his match in the longtime masthead of the Bulls, who got his start in shady real estate, drafted Michael Jordan 3rd (?!?) overall and has more championship rings than fingers. The battle rages hot and dirty, but Reinsdorf’s been coasting since the nineties, and Prokhorov is the hottest Russian in America since Anna Kurnikova did the swimsuit issue. Mikhail Prokhorov wins by a nose, and does it to a baddass soundtrack courtesy of a certain minority owner.