At the top of every NBA franchise their is an owner. Many fans don’t even know the owners of their teams. Fans may not know their favorite team’s owner for a multitude of reasons. For starters, many of the NBA owners don’t seek the spotlight.
Owners like Mark Cuban who are seen at nearly every game, is a rarity in the NBA. Another reason is owners are only really mentioned when a team is highly successful, or unsuccessful.
For Example, many fans want New York Knicks owner James Dolan to sell team, due to the lack of success, the team has had under Dolan. Furthermore, Lakers owner Jeanie Buss’ ability to run the team has been called to question, due to the Lakers dysfunction over the last few years.
The best owners in the NBA share common characteristics. They have a want to win and not just benefit financially from running an NBA team. Great owners also create great cultures, and allow their front offices to run the team without their input.
Lastly, great owners find a way to keep their teams relevant and are willing to pay into the luxury tax in order for their teams to compete for championships.
Here is the list of the top five owners in the NBA as a today.
Los Angeles Clippers- Steve Ballmer
The mere fact that Steve Ballmer is on this list is a testament to the type of owner he is. Ballmer took over the Clippers after the Donald Sterling crisis, and has done nothing but succeed. Since taking over, the Clippers have only missed the playoffs once.
In addition, the Clippers may now have the brightest future in the NBA. This offseason Ballmer’s team acquired finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and traded for Paul George. Now, all of the sudden the Clippers are the favorites to win next year’s NBA title.
These expectations are important considering that the Clippers share the Los Angeles stage with the Lakers. If Ballmer and the Clippers can win a title it would make the Clippers the face of Los Angeles. That is something the Clippers have never been able to claim.
Miami Heat- Micky Arison
As much credit as Pat Riley receives for the Heat’s success in the past decade, owner Micky Arison deserves the same. Miami has a known culture of hard work, and have developed some good players. The likes of Josh Richardson, Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside and Justice Winslow have all came from the Heat’s system.
Another thing that can be credited to the ownership of Arison is the Heat are a rarity in the eastern conference. In the past twenty years five eastern conference teams have won an NBA title. The Heat possess three of those five championships.
Also, Miami is one of the rare free agent destinations in the eastern conference. Yes, location helps but, organizational structure and order goes a long way as well. Besides the two New York teams, Miami is the only free agent destination in the eastern conference.
This was shown this offseason, when Jimmy Butler declined more money from the Philadelphia 76ers to come play in Miami. Butler signing continues the Heat’s tradition of remaining relevant by keeping a star player on their team.
San Antonio Spurs- Peter Holt
The owner of the Spurs is Peter Holt. Because of how quietly the Spurs operate the only time we see Holt is when the Spurs raise banners. As I mentioned in the introduction, great owners allow their front office and coach staff to operate uninterrupted. With Gregg Popovich as head coach and R.C Buford as general manager Holt as two of the best at what they do.
By winning five titles in the past two decades the Spurs are the only true dynasty in the recent NBA. Under Holt’s ownership the Spurs have never missed the playoffs or had a losing record. Additionally, the Spurs culture is legendary. This why each year members of their coaching staff and front office get hired to run other teams.
The Spurs have a great developmental system, just look at Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker who came over from Europe and are now future hall of famers. When Kawhi Leonard forced his way out of San Antonio that was the first time we heard a player wanting out of San Antonio. That is a prime example of how great the Spurs have been in all aspects under Holt’s ownership.
Boston Celtics- Wyc Grousbeck
The Boston Celtics are the most successful organization in the NBA. Boston has the most championships in NBA history with 17. Since taking over the team in Celtics in 2002, Wyc Grousbeck has continued that Boston tradition.
Since the beginning of the Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett era the Celtics have not gone through a rebuild. Grousbeck empowers general manager Danny Ainge who has kept the Celtics successful and with a bright future.
Grousbeck greatness as a owner can be best shown through the Celtics’ fanbase. Boston has one of the most loyal and best fanbases in the entire NBA.
Grousbeck possess a characteristic many NBA owners don’t and thats winning is his priority.
“I’d rather go for it than be mediocre for the next 10 to 15 years” said Grousbeck.
Golden State Warriors- Joe Lacob
Golden State Warriors owner Joe Lacob is also a fast riser on this list considering he took over the team in 2010. First of all, the decision by Warriors ownership and front office to keep Stephen Curry over Monta Ellis changed the NBA.
As we know Curry revolutionized basketball with his three point shooting, forcing every other team to change their way of thinking. Lacob has somewhat led the charge in Golden State of not settling. After going 73-9 in 2016 wasn’t good enough, Golden State then went and signed Kevin Durant. The signing of Durant debatably created the greatest starting five of all time.
Under Lacob the Warriors have been highly successful, winning three titles and now moving into a new billion dollar arena in San Francisco called the Chase Center. Even before Durant left in free agency, Lacob was open to going into the luxury tax to keep Klay Thompson and Durant on the team.
Lacob and the Warriors have proved to be nothing but a first class organization. After the trades of Andre Iguodala and Durant, the team announced they would retire both of their numbers.
Warriors' Joe Lacob says the franchise will retire Kevin Durant's No. 35 jersey, in statement thanking Durant.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 1, 2019
Golden State Warriors‘ Joe Lacob says the franchise intends to retire Andre Iguodala’s No. 9 jersey, in statement thanking Iguodala.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 7, 2019