The 20 richest billionaire owners in the NBA
If no regular season game is played, projections put the league’s financial loss at around $ 500 million. No playoff would cost at least $ 500 million more. Adam Silver said Daryl Morey’s tweet in Hong Kong cost $ 400 million. About $ 1.5 billion in potential losses would justify cutting wages and benefits, but NBA owners are receiving a lot of criticism for trying to do just that.
The Philadelphia 76ers have announced plans to cut employee wages by 20%, citing the financial strain COVID-19 is putting on their cash flow. First Joel Embiid, their star player, shamed them by generously announcing that he would cover the 20%. Then fans got involved and 76ers part-owner Josh Harris quickly reversed his decision. Let’s not be naive, if the 76ers got by, other teams would follow. In a time when everyone is in pain and lives are on the line, billionaires who complain about losing millions are revealing their lack of touch with reality.
A little plea for the devil here – when you read that a person’s wealth is estimated at $ 2 billion, that doesn’t mean they have $ 2 billion in their account. That’s an estimated value of everything they own: homes, NBA teams, businesses. Most of their assets are in publicly traded companies which have suffered a major blow, many of these companies take out loans based on their stock valuations which have most likely fallen.
Take Tilman Fertitta for example. All its wealth is in the service sector: hotels, casinos, restaurants, amusement parks. Almost all have been closed, no money is coming in. He didn’t shoot Balmer and just cashed in for the Rockets (Balmer, by the way, had $ 2 billion in a bank account). Fertita only had $ 300 million in cash and paid $ 2.2 billion for the Rockets. How did he do it? Fertita has set up all of its business as collateral.
“The bond sale will be used for the $ 1.75 billion in equity that Fertitta uses to buy the Rockets, as well as $ 175 million in assumed debt and a $ 275 million loan from Leslie Alexander,” the seller of the NBA team. “
It is therefore quite possible that some owners have significant financial problems that we are not aware of. That being said, they should pay all of their workers and take the blow themselves. In the worst case, they risk losing a business or two – their workers risk losing a roof over their heads and health insurance. The math is clear here. But how many Fertita do we have among the owners?
Forbes compiled a list of Top 20 richest owners in the NBA. The criteria were that they had to own at least 20% of the team to be on the list. Here’s who they are, their estimated wealth and how they made their money.
1. Steve Ballmer (Los Angeles Clippers): $ 51.4 billion
Ballmer scored a huge victory this week for his dream of building a new arena. He bought the forum for $ 400 million from the Madison Square Garden Company, which attempted to blockade a new Clippers arena near the Forum in Inglewood, California.
2. Philippe Anschutz (Los Angeles Lakers): $ 11.2 billion
Anschutz owns a third of the Lakers, plus the arena they play in, the Staples Center, in addition to the NHL Kings.
3. Stanley Kroenke (Denver Nuggets): $ 10 billion
The real estate and sports mogul owns teams from the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLS and Premier League.
4. Joseph Tsaï (Brooklyn Nets): $ 9.9 billion
The Alibaba group co-founder finalized his purchase of the Nets last year for $ 2.3 billion and bought the Barclays Center for an additional $ 1 billion.
5. Robert Pera (Memphis Grizzlies): $ 7.1 billion
Pera owns nearly three-quarters of wireless equipment maker Ubiquiti Networks. He was the primary investor in the purchase of the Grizzlies in 2012.
6. Daniel Gilbert (Cleveland Cavaliers): $ 6.2 billion
Gilbert made his first fortune with Quicken Loans, the largest online mortgage lender, which he co-founded in 1985 at the age of 22.
7. Tom Gorès (Detroit Pistons): $ 5.7 billion
Gores and his brother Alec are both private equity billionaires. The Pistons opened a new $ 90 million headquarters and training facility in September.
8. Micky Arison (Miami Heat): $ 5.3 billion
Arison’s net worth has fallen 33% in the past six weeks with the collapse in Carnival Corp’s stock price. The world’s largest cruise ship operator was founded by Arison’s father in 1972.
9. Tilman Fertitta (Houston Rockets): $ 4.4 billion
Fertitta laid off about 40,000 employees in its empire of casinos and restaurants to reduce the economic impact caused by coronavirus-induced closures. His fortune comes from his ownership of Golden Nugget Casinos and Landry’s, a Texas-based restaurant and entertainment company.
10. Marquez Cuban (Dallas Mavericks): $ 4.3 billion
Cuban was one of the first owners of sports teams pledge to pay hourly arena workers for games missed during the coronavirus crisis. He invested over $ 20 million as a “shark” on the popular ABC show Shark aquarium spectacle.
11. Joshua Harris (Philadelphia 76ers): $ 3.7 billion
Harris co-founded private equity powerhouse Apollo Global Management in 1990 with fellow billionaires Leon Black and Marc Rowan. He remains the general manager.
12. Gayle Benson (New Orleans Pelicans): $ 3.2 billion
Benson inherited the Pelicans and the NFL Saints when her husband, Tom, passed away in 2018.
13. Glen Taylor (Minnesota Timberwolves): $ 2.8 billion
Its printing company, Taylor Corp., generates more than $ 2 billion in revenue per year. Taylor also has stakes in the Minnesota MLS and WNBA teams.
14. Grass Simon (Indiana Pacers): $ 2.6 billion
The real estate mogul bought the Pacers along with his since-deceased brother Melvin in 1983 for $ 10.5 million. Simon Property Group is one of the largest real estate investment funds in the world, with 206 properties in the United States
15. Antoine Ressler (Atlanta Hawks): $ 2.4 billion
Ressler co-founded private equity firm Ares Management in 1997. He owns a small portion of the Milwaukee Brewers, in addition to his controlling stake in the Hawks.
16. Michael Jordan (Charlotte Hornets): $ 2.1 billion
NBA GOAT sold a minority stake in the Hornets in September in a deal that valued the team at $ 1.5 billion. Nike pays Jordan over $ 100 million per year based on the sales growth of the company’s Jordan brand.
17. Marc Lasry (Milwaukee Bucks): $ 1.8 billion
Lasry, a hedge fund titan, joined Wes Edens to buy the Bucks in 2014 for $ 550 million. He was born in Morocco and moved to the United States at the age of 7 with his family.
18. Gail Miller (Utah Jazz): $ 1.7 billion
Miller transferred ownership of the Jazz in 2017 to a family heirloom trust to deter his heirs from selling or moving the team. Gail and her since-deceased husband Larry bought the team for $ 22 million in 1986.
19. Jerry Reinsdorf (Chicago Bulls): $ 1.5 billion
Reinsdorf led a group of investors who bought a controlling stake in the Bulls for $ 9.2 million in 1985. Good timing. It was a year after the team drafted Michael Jordan, who led the Bulls to six NBA titles. The team is now worth $ 3.2 billion.
20. Théodore Léonsis (Washington Wizards): $ 1.4 billion
Leonsis first built his fortune as a senior executive at AOL, before investing in sports teams like the Wizards and NHL Capitals.