What Does It Take To Own An NBA Team?

Following Donald Sterling’s racist remarks, rumour has it that the Los Angeles Clippers franchise may soon be up on the market. Once a nebulous process, NBA ownership has been clarified after the NBA released its once-secret constitutional document, giving us unprecedented insight into how someone can sell, buy, or potentially lose stewardship of an NBA team. With celebs from Oprah Winfrey to rapper Dr. Dre rumoured to be in the running, here’s everything you ever wanted to know if you thought about owning an NBA team of your own.

Under what circumstances can you buy an NBA team?
No man is an island in the NBA. An owner has to answer to the league and a slew of stakeholders before transferring ownership, in whole or in part, of their team. The owner must first request a transfer of ownership from the NBA commissioner, currently Adam Silver, after a deal is struck with the potential buyer. Of course, the buyer must be approved by the league’s commissioner ahead of time. If the owner is selling off 10 per cent or more of his interest in the team, he has to pony up $50,000 to cover any expenses the request may incur on the NBA, such as attorney’s fees. Finally, after all agreements are made between the parties and the commissioner, ¾ of the NBA’s Board of Governors have to approve the transfer before it’s enacted and you have your very own squad.

How do you start a new team?
Maybe you have enough dough to start your own team. After submitting a $1,000,000 application fee, your application may be considered by the NBA’s commissioner (who’s under no obligation to even look at it). The written application must state which city your franchise would potentially represent. In turn, the commish will ask a prospective owner to disclose any information pertinent to the request. If your proposal is up to snuff at the commissioner’s sole discretion, the application will be forwarded to the Board of Governors who, you guessed it, must reach a ¾ majority to welcome you in. If you get in, whatever’s left of the million bucks you paid will be put toward your membership fees—if you don’t, you only get back what remains after the NBA deducts expenses for their trouble.

Why can an owner be fired or forced to give up their franchise?
There are several reasons for which an owner can have his team torn away from him, one of which Donald Sterling is facing after being fined $2.5 million for his racist remarks. If the Board of Governors reaches a ¾ vote, they can terminate any owner for violating any provision listed in the NBA Constitution or its by-laws. This can involve attempting to sell or disband a team without prior approval, gambling on basketball, your team not showing up to a game (note: these rules were written after the lockout), cheating, or failing or refusing to fulfill one’s contractual obligations to the league in such a way as to affect the Association or its members adversely.The last one is what Sterling’s on the hook for, as his remarks caused widespread outrage and losses of sponsorships.

How is an owner fired?
If an owner fails to hold up their end of the bargain, the NBA can petition to have them fired. More specifically, any one member of the association (or even the NBA commissioner himself) can level a charge that an owner has contradicted one of the Constitution’s rules. They must submit this allegation to the offender him or herself, then send a copy to the commissioner within three days. The defending owner has five days to respond to the charges—failing to do so is an admission of guilt. Within 10 days of a response, the NBA will hold a hearing with its Board of Governors. Three-fourths of the governors must vote to have the owner kicked out. However, ⅔ of them can agree to an alternative penalty, which can be a fine, monetary compensation to the accuser, or the forfeiture of draft rights.

How does an owner quit?
If you’re ready to throw in the towel, quitting is a fairly simple affair. A soon-to-be-former owner must tender their resignation at least three days prior to the NBA Draft at the end of a season. However, the NBA will only accept the resignation if, within 30 days, the owners squares all his debts to the league, players and other parties.


Jerome at 03 Mar 2017

I want to become an NBA Minority Owner can you help me find a team to become their minority Owner.

Bubby348 at 07 Mar 2017


Owner at 22 Feb 2019

I would like to bring a NBA team to Corpus Christi Tx. Can you please help me.

Big Ben at 16 Sep 2019

Hey my I will take the Hornets if u want to sell them

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