Behind every collection of players there is the team owner, the man who writes the huge checks players get for providing the entertainment aspect of their business. A large part of that business success is not dictated by an individual payer but rather an individual owner, sitting there in his office making the big decisions that mean the difference between an NBA franchise to die for and an NBA franchise that is dead.
Here we explore five of the worst owners in the NBA, and they are judged not only by the 2011-2012 season but also their actions of the last few years as well as how well they have manged the business they run.
I can hear the screaming now: “How can you rip on Dolan? We have Amare and Melo now and we have a team here that could really go somewhere.”
True, but current losing streak aside for the purpose of this argument, let’s not forget that this is the same man who let Isiah Thomas run the franchise into the ground and who also let general manager Donnie Walsh go in favor of finding another GM just in case the recent lockout encompassed the entire season. Walsh was never going to be Red Auerbach, but he was a solid general manager who could manage a salary cap.
Dolan also is accused of such crimes as getting rid of Marv Albert in 2004 as the voice of the Knicks, a job Albert had been doing and doing well since 1967, paying good money for such players as Stephon Marbury and Eddy Curry and generally just being more concerned with being in the spotlight than constructing a winning team for a city that deserves a winner due to its history and it’s passion for sports.
The fact that he runs one of the most highlighted teams in the country means profit and fame, but it does not mean that Dolan is doing his job to put a competitive team on the floor year after year.
We all can’t be James Dolan, but then again not all of our daddy’s can own Madison Square Garden and Cable Vision either.
4. Glen Taylor- Minnesota Timberwolves:
This is another choice that I can see T-Wolves fans screaming over, as the Timberwolves just signed power forward Kevin Love to a 4 year, sixty-two million dollar contract extension, but it remains to be seen if he can surround Love with the players that will lead Minnesota to a championship, something he just could not do with another superstar forward, namely Kevin Garnett.
Taylor never did give Garnett a competent team to play with and so ‘The Kid’ had to carry the team on his back, year in and year out. Unfortunately for the fans and Garnett, it was never enough.
Besides that, let’s not forget that the main reason that the “Garnett era” ended so badly for Timberwolves fans was the backdoor deal he made with Joe Smith in 1999, where Minnesota lost five years of first round picks, something that was essential to growth, especially with Garnett’s large contract. Add to that the consistently horrible choices for front office staff such as Kevin McHale and David Khan and we may have to wait a long time to see if Taylor and his team can escape mediocrity and lead the pack of the NBA’s elite.
It pains me to add MJ to this list, I owe him for years and years of good times in Chicago and I really thought back then that Jordan’s talent and love for the game of basketball could translate in a coaching or front office job for Jordan down the line.
Unfortunately Michael Jordan is as good at being an NBA general manager as he is at being a baseball player, and both the Wizards and the Bobcats have paid the price for his poor decision making.
The feel good movie of Michael Jordan starts to fade and crumble with a young man by the name of Kwame Brown, a big man who Jordan spent the number one overall pick on in the 2001 NBA Draft as a general manager for the Washington Wizards. Granted, the 2001 draft class was not star-studded and contained quite a few busts as well, but there were players that had better careers than Brown such as Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson and Tony Parker.
So if Jordan can’t GM, why not try being an owner and let someone else be on the hot seat right?
Not only did MJ trade away talented parts of a Bobcats team that had just made the playoffs for the first time in history in Stephen Jackson, Tyson Chadler and Raymond Felton, but he also somehow manged to bring back Kwame Brown as well, bringing ti back to where it all started from.
2. Jerry Reinsdorf- Chicago Bulls:
The Bulls were the number one team in the East last year, have a bona fide hometown superstar on the team in the form of Derrick Rose and look to be title contender not only this year but for years to come.
So why do they make this list?
Jerry Reinsdorf blew up the Bulls right after they won their sixth championship in eight years and not only retired one of the greatest to play the game in Michael Jordan due to his love of GM Jerry Krause and his siding with krause in his war with hall of fame coach Phil Jackson, but he also traded away another hall of fame caliber presence in Scottie Pippen for Roy Rogers and a second round pick that ended up being Jake Voskuhl, then released another hall of famer in Dennis Rodman without getting anything in return at all.
In short, what could have been a boon to the rebuilding efforts, trading away Pippen for something that had actual value and doing a sign and trade for Rodman to get anything in return ended up being the starting point for years and years of bad teams and horrible records, during which time the United Center continuously was filled to or near capacity for most of that period, meaning that Reinsdorf took the money and put an inferior product out on the court.
The Bulls may be running hot now, but for years they were dead in the water while ‘Uncle Jerry’ raked in the cash.
Who else could it be?
Sterling has a reputation in the NBA for being a horrible owner, despite recent moves that may make him look a bit better. Sterling has consistently cut his payroll and traded away valuable players, all in the name of profit, not championships.Those players he does not trade away run for the hills as soon as they can escape in free agency.
Sterling has a ‘rap sheet’ as long as his arm, including bringing woman down to the Clippers locker room after games to ‘look at that those beautiful black bodies’ to not paying for assistant coach Kim Hughes cancer treatment, instead he left it up to his players like Elton Brand. Chris Kaman and Corey Maggette to foot the bill out of kindness.
Sterling is also in the same financial boat as both Jerry Reinsdorf and James Dolan, reaping the benefits of being in a major market in L.A. while not giving the fans much to cheer about for much of his time as the head man in charge of the Clippers.
Donald Sterling takes the crown as the worst NBA owner in recent memory, hands down.
Thomas Willam Spychalski is a freelance writer for hire who co-edits the UK cult website Cult Britannia.co.uk and has been published at such sites as Kasterborous, Whotopia and is also a reporter for the paper Dolphin Talk in Port O’Conner Texas. Tom is also working on breaking into fictional works as well as a long term non fiction book project on the Amityville Horror. He can be contacted at TSpychalski@ShatterTheBackboard.com
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