Fire Isiah. That was the chant going round Madison Square Garden back in 2008, when the Knicks were in the basement of the Eastern Conference, with Starbury doing his self-destruct thing and the Knicks didn’t even have draft picks to show for it. But Isiah had the owner’s ear, so he stuck around – for a little while at least. The kind of owner you’ve got, shows in the type of club they run. With that, let’s take a look at some of the most powerful men in the NBA.
Example: Mark Cuban
These owners are the face of their teams, as much as, if not more than the players. He’s at almost every single game, courtside, and it’s hard to think of the Mavericks without Cuban’s outraged face, furious at the officiating. Maybe it’s a good thing, because Cuban’s steady but responsible investment, and determination to build a winner the right way, helped develop Nowitzki into a world-class power forward, and turn the Mavericks into champions. Not to be confused with…
Example: Mikhail Prokhorov
Soccer fans will have been familiar with this type for years. The mysterious Russian, who arrives with bags of money from who-knows-where, a desire for a championship, and absolutely no concern at all for how much that championship will cost. If he shows up to games at all, expect to see a former supermodel on his arm, and several shady looking KGB types in the background. Soccer’s Financial Fair Play rules have started to drive him out of that sport, but expect to see his eyes light up when he tells his friends the NBA has no hard salary cap.
Examples: Herbert Simon, Peter Holt, Stan Kroenke
Spurs fans will know what we mean with this category. The silent partner, totally uninterested in meddling with the affairs of the team, and only interested in putting out a great product on the court, and on budget. Peter Holt’s Spurs are a best case scenario, having built a regular winner through the draft and sticking with a capable coach. Herbert Simon and the Pacers have similarly built a winning tradition through careful trades, and building through the draft. Some people could learn.
Examples: James Dolan, Jerry Reinsdorf, Dan Gilbert
Anyone who has the best interests of the league at heart should be scared at how many owners fit into this category. These guys want to run the team, and they want it run their way. Or else. Poor management isn’t enough to land someone in this category though – this group is reserved for those whose truly bad decisions that would ordinarily get someone fired. James Dolan sticking with Isiah Thomas. Reinsdorf and Krause breaking up the ‘99 Bulls right after a second three-peat. Dan Gilbert writing a letter to Lebron in Comic Sans MS, and publishing it online.
Example: Michael Jordan
The lone soul on this list, MJ is the only one of his type to make the risky venture into franchise ownership. We don’t know which is worse – that MJ is reponsible for the Charlotte Bobcats, or that he’s forced to watch them night in, night out. The sad truth is that the Ex-Player is unable to replicate or teach his own talent. “Why didn’t you just beat your man on the dribble, switch hands under the basket and finish with a soft underhand layup?” “Because I’m Stephen Jackson, boss.”