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NBA Owners

Editorials

Ranking NBA team owners from worst to first

From worst to first, here’s our ranking of NBA owners.

30. James Dolan, New York Knicks

Possibly the worst owner in professional sports today, Dolan has been the driving force behind the NBA’s most dysfunctional franchise over the past few decades — the New York Knicks. The blue and orange have made the playoffs just four times since the 2001-02 season, all under Dolan’s leadership or lack thereof, with one playoff series win to show for it.

29. Vivek Ranadive, Sacramento Kings

Since buying ownership of the team in 2013, Ranadive has been unable to get the Kings to the postseason. None of his teams have mustered a record better than 39-43.

28. Michael Jordan, Charlotte Hornets

Arguably the greatest basketball player ever, Jordan has been unable to find the same level of success as an NBA owner. Since taking over the reins in 2010, the then-Bobcats and now Hornets have reached the postseason three times, never making it out of the first round.

27. Robert Sarver, Phoenix Suns

Sarver bought the Suns in 2004 and wasted no time in showing that he was a cheapskate. The man traded both the seventh overall pick in the 2004 draft, and a few years later the 21st pick in the 2006 draft for cash considerations. The two players chosen with these selections were Luol Deng and Rajon Rondo, both future all-stars.

26. Dan Gilbert, Cleveland Cavaliers

Asides from the 2016 championship, Gilbert’s tenure with the Cavs has been disappointing. He was unable to maximize LeBron’s first stint in Cleveland, as the team only made one Finals appearance in 2007 before he left for Miami.

25.  Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls

Reinsdorf was the owner during Michael Jordan’s two three-peats in the 90s. Since then he has been unable to build a team that has reached the NBA Finals, and the Bulls are currently in a full rebuild with a plethora of youth.

24. Dan DeVos, Orlando Magic

DeVos has only been around since 2018, and he was able to see the Magic make the playoffs for the first time in over a half decade, but the question is whether he will be able to get this team out of mediocrity.

23. Glen Taylor, Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are among the least successful franchises in the history of the NBA. They missed the postseason for 13 straight years from 2005 to 2018, all with Taylor at the helm, which is tied for the second longest playoff drought ever.

22. Tom Gores, Detroit Pistons

The Pistons have seen success in the past, with three titles in its franchise history. However, since Gores took over in 2011 the team has struggled. They have made the playoffs just twice this decade, and were swept in both series.

21. Tom Benson, New Orleans Pelicans

Also the owner of the New Orleans Saints, Benson has been criticized for his seeming lack of interest in the Pelicans compared to the Saints. He was never able to surround superstar Anthony Davis with a supporting cast that could lead to the franchise seeing postseason success. New Orleans only reached the second round of the playoffs once with Davis.

20. Joseph Tsai, Brooklyn Nets

Tsai has only owned the Nets for a few months. Over this span the Nets have been impressively competitive even with Kevin Durant not playing a single game and Kyrie Irving missing a handful. The gritty, hard-nosed style of play that this team has embraced coupled with the additions of Durant and Irving have Tsai set up for success in the short and long term.

19. Joshua Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers are among the best teams in the East and own possibly the best starting lineup in the NBA. That being said, it is worth mentioning that Harris was the owner of this organization when they were going through “The Process” and were the laughingstock of the league for a handful of seasons.

18. Tony Ressler, Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks have seen little playoff success with Ressler, though with an exciting young duo in Trae Young and John Collins on the roster, the franchise is well-positioned to compete for a playoff spot in the near future.

17. Ted Leonsis, Washington Wizards

Since becoming an owner in 2010, Leonsis has struggled to get the Wizards out of mediocrity, as shown by the fact that the franchise has been unable to advance past the second round of the playoffs since his arrival.

16. Robert J. Pera, Memphis Grizzlies

Pera’s Grizzlies reached the WCF in 2013 with a core of Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph. They were arguably the best team in franchise history, and Memphis remains in the right direction with an exciting young nucleus that includes Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Dillon Brooks.

15. Tilman Fertitta, Houston Rockets

Fertitta’s stint in Houston has been brief, though his team has seen significant success. Just two seasons ago, the Rockets were just minutes away from reaching the NBA Finals, as they blew a double-digit lead at home in Game 7 of the Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

14. Ann Kroenke, Denver Nuggets

Denver has 11 postseason appearances under Kroenke, with nine of them resulting in first-round exits. The Nuggets’ best season under her ownership came during 2008-09 when the team led by Carmelo Anthony made it to the Western Conference Finals and lost to the Lakers in six games.

13. Jeanie Buss, Los Angeles Lakers

Buss struggled to get the Lakers out of a long rebuild when she initially took over as controlling owner in 2013, though the purple and gold have certainly turned around since then. Having now employed LeBron James and Anthony Davis, though, things are looking up.

12. Marc Lasry, Milwaukee Bucks

Lasry and crew have been able to form a solid surrounding cast around superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo since becoming an owner in 2014.

11. Herbert Simon, Indiana Pacers

The Pacers had some great teams under Simon. Still, they have never been able to get over the hump. If not for the dominant force that was the 1999-00 Lakers, Indiana may have been champions that season, as they lost a hard-fought NBA Finals series to LA in six games. The same can be said for the 2013 and 2014 Pacers. Both were great teams and made the ECF’s, but subsequently lost to a LeBron James led Miami Heat team in seven and six games.

10. Clay Bennett, Oklahoma City Thunder

Since Bennett decided to move the then-Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City, his team saw consistent postseason success from the early to mid-2010s. The Thunder have appeared in the NBA Finals once and made the WCF three times from 2010-11 to 2015-16.

9. Steve Ballmer, Los Angeles Clippers

The former CEO of Microsoft was able to land his squad Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this past summer, which will give the Clippers a chance to win their first title in franchise history this season. Ballmer has stabilized the once dysfunctional team into a top-tier organization.

8. The Allen Family, Portland Trail Blazers

Despite so far being unable to add another banner to the Blazers’ single 1977 title, Paul Allen saw his teams reach the Finals once and the Conference Finals on three occasions since his start in 1988. With his passing, the family has kept Portland as a consistent playoff threat for the most part.

7. Larry Tanenbaum, Toronto Raptors

Tanenbaum was able to earn his first title as an owner this past season with the Raptors, and with a team-first culture, the organization will continue to see success despite no longer having Kawhi Leonard on the roster.

6.  Wyc Grousbeck, Boston Celtics

The Celtics have one of the league’s best front offices, and their owner is no exception. Grousbeck is committed to bringing another title to the storied franchise after winning one in 2008 thanks to assembling the trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.

5. Gail Miller, Utah Jazz

The longtime Jazz owner has been able to consistently put together competitive teams that the passionate fans fall in love with, coming close to winning the state a title multiple times –– bowing out to the Chicago Bulls in the 1997 and ’98 NBA Finals.

4. Joe Lacob, Golden State Warriors

The Warriors have won three titles over the past four seasons and were a dynasty under Lacob.

3. Mark Cuban, Dallas Mavericks

The billionaire businessman has instilled a winning culture in Dallas. The Mavs have been a consistent contender since the dawn of the 21st century, and are in a position to continue winning with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis leading the way for seasons to come.

2. Micky Arison, Miami Heat

Arison has seen his organization win three titles and reach the NBA Finals on five occasions since joining ownership in 1995.

1. Julianna Holt, San Antonio Spurs

During her two-plus decades as owner of the Spurs, they have been the NBA’s model franchise, winning five titles and earning a spot in the postseason for 22 consecutive seasons as of 2019.