NBA players and coaches get the bulk of the credit when a franchise has success, and it is warranted considering they are the ones responsible for success on a basketball court. But owners should also be given credit for running a strong organization because, without proper management, success is nearly impossible.
That is why the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics are the two most successful franchises, considering that the ownership of both franchises is historically great. Currently, we have some incredible owners such as Micky Arison of the Miami Heat, Peter Holt of the San Antonio Spurs, and Joe Lacob of the Golden State Warriors who have all won NBA championships.
But where do these owners rank in terms of net worth, along with every other owner of the NBA? We have heard about Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Balmer having an incredible net worth, but is he the richest owner in the league? Here are the rankings of all NBA owners in terms of overall net worth.
30. Peter Holt, San Antonio Spurs
Peter Holt is the great-grandson of the late Benjamin Holt, the man who developed the first track-type tractor. Mainly known as former CEO of HoltCat, the largest Caterpillar dealership in the United States, Peter Holt headlines a group company called Spurs Sports & Entertainment.
Since Peter Holt became involved with the Spurs in 1993, the franchise has captured 5 NBA titles behind Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan. One of the most successful franchises in NBA history, it is obvious that Holt’s investment has greatly increased since the purchase in the early 1990s.
29. Clay Bennett, Oklahoma City Thunder
One of the owners of the San Antonio Spurs in the 1990s, Clay Bennett is now chairman of the Oklahoma City-based LLC which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise. In 2006, Bennett and his group purchased the Seattle SuperSonics and tried to keep the franchise in the city of Seattle.
But after failing to get $500 million in public funding to build a new arena for the team, Bennett informed the NBA that they wished to move the franchise to Oklahoma City. Of course, Bennett had to deal with lawsuits before settling with the city of Seattle and eventually leading the Oklahoma City franchise. We have seen top stars such as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook compete with the Thunder franchise during Bennett’s ownership.
28. Wyc Grousbeck, Boston Celtics
A native sports fan from Massachusetts, Wyc Grousbeck worked for 7 years at a venture capital firm, Highland Capital Partners, before leading basketball group Boston Basketball Partners LLC that eventually bought the Boston Celtics for $360 million in 2002. Since Grousbeck and the partners bought the Celtics, there has been one championship victory in 2008.
As of 2010, Wyc is also chairman of the largest research facility dedicated to hearing and eyesight solutions (Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary) and also founded Causeway Media Partners, LP, a growth equity partnership. Causeway Media manages over $330 million, investing in sports technology and media companies such as Formula E Racing and SeatGeek. Buying one of the most well-known franchises in NBA history at $360 million seems like a bargain considering how iconic the Celtics franchise is.
27. Robert Sarver, Phoenix Suns
Despite the ongoing controversy of racial and misogynistic claims, Robert Sarver is one of the most well-known owners in the NBA. He made his money from co-founding Southwest Value, a real estate company with a vast portfolio. After purchasing Emerald Plaza in 1995, Sarver and his partner, Millard Seldin, sold it for a big profit.
A huge fan of sports, Sarver was waiting for the opportunity to purchase a professional sports side and did so in 2014. Despite the Suns making the Finals last year, Sarver is often blamed for the franchise’s drought of success and confusing financial decisions including failing to re-sign future All-Star center Deandre Ayton to a long-term contract.
26. Jeanie Buss, Los Angeles Lakers
Jeanie Buss belongs to an elite class of entrepreneurs because she might be the most powerful woman in sports right now. Taking over the Los Angeles Lakers from her deceased father, Jerry Buss, Jeanie is the controlling owner and acting president of the famed franchise. The late Jerry Buss was an active real estate investor who had a hand in multiple other sports businesses besides the Lakers.
Jeanie started her career at age 19 when she became general manager of the Los Angeles Strings, a professional tennis team, before owning roller-hockey team Los Angeles Blades. Clearly a capable businesswoman, Jeanie was one of six children given equal controlling ownership before she decided to take a strong leadership stance of the organization. Jeanie Buss also became the first female controlling owner to guide her team to an NBA championship in 2020 when the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Miami Heat in the Finals.
25. Vivek Ranadive, Sacramento Kings
Born in India, Vivek Ranadive was an entrepreneur that had the ability to diversify his earnings through multiple businesses. Ranadive was accepted into MIT and graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree. He later continued his education with a Master’s degree from Harvard, even when opening his first business with UNIX Consulting.
Ranadive also held management and engineering positions with Ford Motor Company and Fortune Systems. Interestingly, Ranadive became co-owner and vice-chairman of the Golden State Warriors in 2010 before purchasing the Sacramento Kings in 2013 after selling his share of the Warriors. Until now, the Kings have not found much success under the ownership of Ranadive.
24. Joe Lacob, Golden State Warriors
The most successful owner over the last 5 years, Joe Lacob and his investment group paid $450 million for the Golden State Warriors franchise in 2010. The franchise’s value is up massively over the last decade, mainly due to the attraction of superstars such as Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant.
Lacob’s 25% stake is currently worth nearly $1 billion, meaning his own investment is up at least 10 times. Joe is also a fantastic owner, making sure his investment is being taken care of with the best management practices and coaching. The Warriors have won 3 NBA titles since the start of Labob’s ownership, and even posted the greatest record in NBA history with 73 wins. Interestingly enough, Lacob had a stake with the Boston Celtics before selling it to finance his investment in the Warriors.
23. Larry Tanenbaum, Toronto Raptors
An astute businessman, Larry Tanenbaum is one of the most prominent figures in Canadian business and sports. Larry joined family business KVN as general manager, after acquiring a bachelor’s degree in economics. While studying for his degree at Cornell University, Larry worked as a student manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Larry Tanenbaum became infatuated with sports teams, and his stake with company Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment holds ownership with the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs. Tanenbaum is also known for his philanthropy, mainly in the Jewish community based in Canada where he was known to have donated $5 million to Jewish studies.
22. Ryan Smith, Utah Jazz
The co-founder of Utah-based computing company Qualtrics, Ryan Smith made his fortune by finding a gold mine of a company. Right before Smith and Qualtrics made its IPO in early 2019, German company SAP purchased the company for $8 billion. Eventually, Qualtircs became a stand-alone company in 2021.
Ryan Smith later purchased some stake in the company and is known as the headline owner of the Utah Jazz franchise. In 2020, Smith led a group of investors to purchase the franchise for a little over $1.6 billion. To date, Smith has a strong franchise in his hands and has a chance to make his investment particularly profitable in the near future.
21. Theodore Leonsis, Washington Wizards
The current owner of the Washington Wizards, Theodore Leonsis is the founder of Monumental Sports, a company that owns several teams in the Washington area. These teams include the NHL’s Capitals, the Washington Mystics, and Capital One Arena including the Wizards. Originating from Greece, Leonsis worked as a senior executive in AOL for 14 years.
Leonsis is also cofounder and partner for Revolution Growth, a venture capital firm spearheaded by AOL cofounder himself, Steve Case. Leonsis is clearly onto something with Monumental Sports because Laurene Powell purchased a 20% stake which gave her the second-highest stake in the company.
20. Michael Jordan, Charlotte Hornets
Basketball superstar Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the most widely known owner in sports because he was the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. Jordan made his money from being a global icon due to his dominance on the court for the Chicago Bulls, winning 6 NBA titles in his Hall of Fame career.
Michael became majority owner in 2010 when he purchased a $275 million stake, giving him majority control over the Charlotte Bobcats (now Charlotte Hornets). Jordan embraced the challenge of being an owner, stating:
"Purchasing the Bobcats is the culmination of my post-playing career goal of becoming the majority owner of an NBA franchise." "I am especially pleased to have the opportunity to build a winning team in my home state of North Carolina.”
Even if the Hornets have not had much success in the Jordan ownership era, they could be on the right track right now with All-Star LaMelo Ball on the roster.
19. Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls
Getting his career started as a tax attorney for the IRS, Jerry Reinsdorf made his wealth by buying sports teams and letting the value significantly increase over time. Jerry and a group of investors bought the Chicago White Sox baseball team in 1981 for $19 million, and it is likely worth much more at this point.
Reinsdorf then purchased the Chicago Bulls franchise in 1985 for $9.2 million, one year after the franchise drafted future superstar and Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. After 6 championships and over 3 decades later, the Bulls franchise is worth over $2 billion at this point in time. As seen from “The Last Dance” documentary, Reinsdorf was critical in the team’s success.
18. Marc Lasry, Milwaukee Bucks
Marc Lasry, and his sister Sonia, founded Avenue Capital Management in 1995 for $7 million. Avenue Capital Management manages about $10 billion in assets by focusing on undervalued assets and distressed companies. Marc moved to the United States after he was born in Morocco, and managed to build impressive wealth.
Lasry has a stake in the Milwaukee Bucks, a franchise that is on the up right now thanks to MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Making money from hedge funds and investment groups is often the way founders make money, but very few can do as well as Marc Lasry did.
17. James Dolan, New York Knicks
Perhaps one of the most polarizing owners in sports, James Dolan is worth around $2 billion at this moment of time. The Dolan family founded Cablevision, a multi-billion dollar business that James inherited from his father. There is no doubt that James has the financial backing to own a franchise on the level of the New York Knicks, but is he competent?
The Knicks have not made the Finals since 1999, and a lot of the organizational decision-making has been subpar, to say the least. James has been known to rule with an iron fist and refuses to accept any criticism of his ownership to date. A wealthy businessman with power, it is unlikely James Dolan will sell the franchise anytime soon.
16. Glen Taylor, Minnesota Timberwolves
Glen Taylor made the most of the purchase of a wedding service business in 1975 for $2 million, turning it into Taylor Corp. which is a printing firm that has generated over $2 billion in sales. Although he is no longer CEO of Taylor Corp, Taylor is still acting chairman. Not to mention, Glen owns farmland in Minnesota and Iowa.
Owning the Minnesota Timberwolves is no easy feat because the franchise has not had success since the Kevin Garnett days. So far, the franchise could be onto something with Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, but it remains to be seen if new owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez can bring success to the franchise when they become majority owners in 2023.
15. Herb Simon, Indiana Pacers:
One of the founders of Simon Property Group, Herb Simon has seen the real estate investment trust grow to a massive capacity. Simon Property Group has over 200 properties globally, most of them located in the United States. Along with his brother, Melvin, Herb has seen his wealth grow over the past few decades.
Herb and Melvin purchased the Indiana Pacers in 1983, possibly seeing a massive return on their investment as the Pacers franchise is valued at over $1 billion. The Pacers have seen some elite stars such as Reggie Miller, Jermaine O’Neal, and Paul George over the Simons’ ownership, and there is hope that the next star will rise for the franchise.
14. Gayle Benson, New Orleans Pelicans
The widow of former New Orleans Pelicans and NFL’s New Orleans Saints, Tom Benson, Gayle Benson is currently the owner of both franchises. Tom passed in 2018, leaving Gayle with the responsibility and ownership of both franchises. Gayle is also involved in a multi-year dispute with Tom’s daughter over control of assets.
Formerly an interior designer, Gayle showcased an entrepreneurial spirit by founding GMB Racing, a horse racing company, in 2014. Gayle and Tom married in 2004, and 14 years later, the widow is left with two massive sports franchises at this moment in time. Luckily, the Pelicans are a franchise with a potential superstar in Zion Williamson in their ranks.
13. Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks
Possibly the most famous owner in the NBA, Mark Cuban is one of the most outspoken and charismatic billionaires in the world. But how did Cuban strike big to earn his first billion? The Dallas, Texas resident founded Broadcast.com, a video portal platform, only to sell it to Yahoo for $5.7 billion in 1999.
A massive sports fan, Cuban is the proud owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Countless times we have seen Cuban courtside at Mavericks games and he is constantly looking for ways to improve the roster around a core superstar, from Dirk Nowitzki to Luka Doncic. Cuban is also a fan of investing in businesses with a purpose, such as Luminaid which provides lighting support to areas of disaster.
12. Richard DeVos, Orlando Magic
Owner of selling giant Amway, Richard DeVos began his career selling multipurpose cleaner door-to-door with his high school friend. A smart businessman, DeVos was adept at learning about sales and was able to have a very successful career that yielded billions despite being a dropout before university.
DeVos purchased the Orlando Magic in 1991, a perfect time because Shaquille O’Neal would have his first season in 1993. Over the next three decades, the Magic had some elite stars compete for the franchise including O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Tracy McGrady, and Dwight Howard among others. Richard died in 2018, leaving his family to own the Orlando Magic franchise.
11. Tilman Fertitta, Houston Rockets
A dropout from the University of Houston, Tilman Fertitta knew that his success would come from his past experiences working in his father’s seafood restaurant. Fertitta now owns Landry’s, a massive restaurant chain in Texas that includes recognizable restaurant names including Saltgrass Steakhouse, Landry’s Seafood House, and Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.
Fertitta also owns Golden Nugget Casinos and is heavily involved in the entertainment industry as well. The ambitious owner purchased the Houston Rockets in 2017, with the aim of making his hometown team a title-contender and NBA champion. Even if Tilman could not win a title as of yet, he is one of the most widely known owners in the league.
10. Antony Ressler, Atlanta Hawks
Ressler, the proud owner of the Atlanta Hawks, co-founded Apollo Global Management in 1990 and also private equity firm Ares Management. Ressler has two impressive degrees: a bachelor’s from Georgetown University and a master’s from Colombia University. Clearly an educated and informed businessman, Ressler bought the Hawks in 2015.
The Hawks are one of the most talented teams in the NBA at the moment, and the franchise will have likely increased in value since Ressler’s original purchase. The owner also has a minority stake in the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team and is heavily involved in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
9. Joshua Harris, Philadelphia 76ers
Along with billionaires Marc Rowan and Leon Black, Joshua Harris co-founded investment firm Apollo Global Management in 1990. Now managing over $400 billion in assets, Harris still oversees the day-to-day operations of the firm. With an investment mindset, Harris made the clever move of purchasing the Philadelphia 76ers franchise in 2011.
Purchasing the NBA franchise a few years before Joel Embiid played his first NBA game, Harris has seen the 76ers multiply in value over the last decade. Armed with a Master's degree from Harvard University, Harris also has stakes in the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and England soccer team Crystal Palace FC.
8. Tom Gores, Detroit Pistons
Immigrating to the United States from Israel at the age of 4, Tom Gores made his wealth from a fleet of over 40 companies. With over $26 billion in assets held in private equity firm, Platinum Equity, Gores spent his early years studying how to buy out businesses and make them profitable.
Gores and Platinum Equity bought the Detroit Pistons in 2011 before the former bought the remaining stake to have 100% ownership. Clearly an owner with an affinity for his franchise, Gores built a new HQ and training center for the Pistons that is worth over $85 million. The new facilities opened in 2019, and Gores hopes to see the fruits of his investment.
7. Micky Arison, Miami Heat
Micky Arison is the acting chairman and owner of the largest cruise ship operator in the world, Carnival Corporation. Born in Tel Aviv, Israel; Micky immigrated to the United States with his father, Ted Arison, who founded Carnival Corp. Micky took what his father built and took it to another level, growing his fleet to over 100 ships. Dropping out of the University of Miami to help Carnival Corp. grow, Micky knew where his money would be made.
Micky took ownership of the Miami Heat franchise in 1995, a franchise that his father helped bring to Florida. There has been a great success for the franchise since then, including 3 championship victories and a host of iconic stars competing for the franchise including Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Shaquille O’Neal.
6. Joseph Tsai, Brooklyn Nets
Current vice-chairman and co-founder of Alibaba Group, Joseph Tsai made his money from the famous business group led by Jack Ma. The Canadian national is originally from Taiwan, and clearly exhibits elite decision-making and business prowess to maintain a net worth of over $8 billion.
Tsai purchased the Brooklyn Nets in 2018 for a 49% stake, only to claim the remaining 51% in 2019. The owner has two degrees from Yale University and has a knack for scoping and building high-value companies. The Nets currently have an excellent team that could win championships in the future, meaning Tsai could have an excellent investment in his hands.
5. Ann Walton Kroenke, Denver Nuggets
Ann Walton Kroenke is not only the heiress to the Walmart fortune but also the wife of billionaire Stanley Kroenke. Real estate mogul and famed land-owner Stanley Kroenke is heavily involved in the sports scene because he has the finances to be after all. Famously known as the owner of British soccer club, Arsenal FC, Kroenke is also involved in American sports teams Los Angeles Rams (which won the Superbowl this year) and the Colorado Rapids of the MLS.
The Kroenke’s made their money from owning land, as it is reported that the family owns 10’s millions in square feet of real estate in shopping plazas and ranches across America and Canada. The Kroenke name can be found plastered across a variety of sports teams and also land across the world, and Ann Walton Kroenke is the owner of the Denver Nuggets and also the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.
4. Robert Pera, Memphis Grizzlies
Robert Pera has a very good franchise on his hands because the Memphis Grizzlies are one of the most exciting franchises in the league behind superstar point guard Ja Morant. But Pera is incredibly wealthy because he founded wireless equipment maker Ubiquiti Networks. Ubiquiti Networks recorded revenue in 2021 of over $1.2 billion, a massive reason why the Grizzlies’ owner is filthy rich.
Holding a degree in electrical engineering from the University of San Diego, Pera worked at Apple in 2003 and founded Ubiquiti Networks after only 10 months on the job. The Grizzlies owner was heavily involved in the company, currently owning 75% of it, and started working full-time in his firm in 2005. The self-made billionaire is also one of the youngest billionaires in the world.
3. Jody Allen, Portland Trail Blazers
The late Paul Allen is famously known as the co-founder of Microsoft alongside Bill Gates. Gates’ best friend growing up, Allen is also considered of superior intelligence. He not only received a perfect SAT score of 1600 but convinced Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard to start up Microsoft. Designing computers and changing the world is no easy feat, which is why Allen is a pioneer in tech.
Paul Allen purchased the Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 for around $70 million, and the value of the franchise has increased over the last three decades. Upon his death in 2018, the franchise now belongs to Paul’s sister, Jody Allen. Jody took control of other properties besides the Trail Blazers including the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks and co-founded the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.
2. Daniel Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers
Dan Gilbert is one of the most iconic owners in the NBA, mainly because of his topsy turvy relationship with superstar LeBron James. Even if Gilbert is not the most likable character in the NBA, there is no denying he is a smart businessman and accomplished owner. After all, he was lucky to have LeBron James drafted No. 1 overall and eventually built a contender that won a title in 2016.
Gilbert is also one of the richest owners in sports, holding a net worth of around $30 billion. He did it by founding Quickens Loans, one of the largest and most successful mortgage-lending firms in the world. Quicken eventually went public in 2020 as Rocket Companies and is currently valued at $36 billion. Not to mention, Gilbert cofounded sneaker sale platform StockX.
1. Steve Balmer, Los Angeles Clippers
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer is one of the world’s richest men. Balmer took over Clippers ownership in 2014, kickstarting an era of title contention and excitement around the league. Even if Balmer is worth over $70 billion and has enough money for the generations after him, it is obvious he finds ultimate excitement in attending NBA games and following the Clippers’ season.
Of course, Balmer made his money from the tech industry, and being the CEO of Microsoft is a testament to his smarts and entrepreneurial spirit. It was reported that Balmer managed to exceed a net worth of over $100 billion last year, seeing an increase of $20 billion in one year. Under Balmer’s ownership, the Clippers have increased in value by around $600 million which is yet another money-making venture for the ridiculously rich owner.