I once wrote that owning a baseball team is a rich man’s dream. Well, this applies to basketball as well. A game that was started by a humble Canadian-American gym teacher with a gnarly mustache has now become a multi-million dollar sport that is watched by millions of people around the world. Billionaires who have been successful in other industries have long taken notice of this and have decided to own teams for themselves. These billionaires come from different walks of life and we’re all happy and maybe a little envious of their success.
Here are the top 10 billionaire basketball owners. They may not be performing any slam dunks anytime soon, but the teams that they own wouldn’t exist without them. Whether that’s good thing or a bad thing is up to you.
10. Donald Sterling – Los Angeles Clippers, Net Worth: $1.9 Billion
People seem to forget that there is another team in Los Angeles besides the Lakers, but the Los Angeles Clippers have been around for awhile now under Sterling‘s management. Sterling would do well as a divorce attorney before striking it rich in real estate. He would then buy the Clippers for $12.5 million in the early ’80s and move them from San Diego to Los Angeles in order to make more money. The Clippers might not have won much but they keep making improvements as time goes on, so that’s something.
The Los Angeles Clippers are now worth $575 million.
9. Herb Simon – Indiana Pacers, Net Worth: $1.95 Billion
Herb Simon started his path to immeasurable wealth by co-founding Melvin Simon and Associates, a real estate company, with Melvin Simon in 1960. This small upstart has since grown into the enormous Simon Property Group. The Simon Property Group is now currently the largest, publicly-traded real estate investment company in the United States. When Herb saw his future success in real estate in 1983, he bought the Indiana Pacers for a measly $11 million dollars as a favor for the mayor of Indianapolis, Bill Hudnut.
This favor has lead to a franchise that is now worth an estimated $475 million dollars.
8. Mark Cuban – Dallas Mavericks, Net Worth: $2.3 Billion
He’s rich, he’s famous, and he’s all over your television screen. Mark Cuban founded Broadcast.com, an audio and video portal, in the ’90s with Todd Wagner and sold it for $5.7 billion in 1999 to Yahoo. This extremely lucrative deal allowed him to pursue other entertainment interests, such as purchasing a majority stake of the Dallas Mavericks in 2000 for $285 million. This deal didn’t come without its problems, as Mark Cuban has been fined by the NBA over ten times for over $1.5 million dollars for uncouth comments and unsportsmanlike behavior to NBA referees.
Despite those setbacks, the Dallas Mavericks are now worth $765 million.
7. Tom Gores – Detroit Pistons – Net Worth: $2.4 Billion
Tom Gores founded Platinum Equity, LLC in 1995 from his home in California while I was busy anticipating the impending release of the Nintendo 64. Tom’s inherent ability to buy under-performing companies with good assets led to a path of success that still exists today, while my ability to find Yoshi on top of Peach’s Castle, was far less profitable. This successful philosophy led to him buying Palace Sports & Entertainment, a Detroit entity that owns the Detroit Pistons as well as other properties, for $325 million in 2011.
Gores has shown his firm commitment to Detroit by growing the Pistons value to $450 million, while running various philanthropic programs to help the city.
6. E. Stanley Kroenke – Denver Nuggets – Net Worth: $4 Billion
Kroenke must have really enjoyed being a student at the University of Missouri since he obtained a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science, and a Masters of Business Administration from the school. Stanley started acquiring his immense wealth when he founded THF Realty in 1991, a real estate company that has a strong relationship with Wal-Mart, and made his mark in the commercial market. This lead to Stanley buying the Denver Nuggets along with the Colorado Avalance for $450 million in 2000, when the state failed to convince any other wealthy people to be interested in the franchise.
The Denver Nuggets are now worth $495 million dollars and are currently in fourth place in their division.
5. Richard DeVos – Orlando Magic – Net Worth: $5 Billion
Richard DeVos has been around for a very long time. In fact, he is the only billionaire on this list to have served in World War II. DeVos founded Amway, a marketing company that mostly focuses on health and beauty products, in 1959. Amway has grown to be worth billions and DeVos decided to expand his business portfolio to the sports world. He bought the Orlando Magic in 1991 for $85 million and was there to see Shaquille O’Neal change the NBA forever, before he went on to play for the Los Angeles Lakers years later.
The Orlando Magic are now worth $560 million but still haven’t won an NBA championship.
4. Mickey Arison – Miami Heat, Net Worth: $5.9 Billion
Micky Arison is both an Israeli-American and the son of Ted Arison, the man who founded of the Carnival Cruise Lines in 1972. Micky would follow in his father’s footsteps in wealth creation by being the Chief Executive Officer of the company for over twenty years. Micky Arison would buy a majority stake in the Miami Heat in 1995 for an undisclosed amount and the franchise’s abysmal record would change dramatically. Arison would bring in Pat Riley to restructure the team and create a new culture that would encourage success over failure. In the next year, the Miami heat would enter the NBA Conference Finals and earn a new sense of respect from the rest of the league.
The Miami Heat are now worth $770 million and have won three NBA championships.
3. Philip Anschutz – Los Angeles Lakers, Net Worth: $10.3 Billion
Philip Anschutz made it big by making enough money in real estate to buy his father’s oil company, Circle A drilling, for an undisclosed amount. This deal would make Phillip a rich oil tycoon that would expand his business interests into other areas such as entertainment. Phillip would have a controlling interest in a variety of teams including the Los Angeles Lakers through the Anschutz Entertain Group in the late ’90s.
Anschutz’s financial contributions would help the Los Angeles Lakers win three straight NBA championships. The team is valued at an estimated $1.35 billion.
2. Mikhail Prokhorov – Brooklyn Nets, Net Worth: $13.2 Billion
Mikhail Prokhorov graduated from the Moscow Financial Institute in 1989 before buying Norilsk Nickel, one of Russia’s leading mining and smelting companies, in 1995. He is one of the leading industrialists in the formerly Communist country and even attempted to run for president against Vladimir Putin. When his attempt at politics was unsuccessful, Mikhail turned his focus towards American sports. Mikhail bought a controlling interest in the New Jersey Nets in 2009 for $200 million and would move them to Brooklyn for greater business opportunities.
The Brooklyn Nets are now valued at $780 million.
1. Paul Allen – Portland Trail Blazers, Net Worth: $15.8 Billion
Who doesn’t know Paul Allen? Okay, maybe a lot of people don’t but they should. Allen was the co-founder of Microsoft along with Bill Gates. A little Microsoft product known as Windows would take over the computing landscape and become a billion-dollar industry behemoth. Paul would expand his interests outside of the tech world by purchasing the Portland Trail Blazers from California real estate developer Larry Weinberg for $70 million in 1988.
The Portland Trail Blazers are now worth an estimated $587 million and are in fourth place for highest attendance in the NBA.