Mark Cuban | Owner Dallas Mavericks
Mark Cuban was born in Pittsburgh in 1958. His Jewish-Russian grandparents shortened their last name from Chabenisky to Cuban when they came to the United States in the early 1900s. His father was an automobile upholsterer. Perhaps Mark already knew that he had a future in the NBA when, as a child, he sold garbage bags to buy an expensive pair of basketball shoes.
Mark also showed his entrepreneurial skills at an early age when he brought in newspapers from Cleveland to sell during a newspaper strike in Pittsburgh. He skipped his senior year in high school to attend the University of Pittsburgh, but left there after one year to attend Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.
Mark worked a variety of jobs in Bloomington including party promoter, disco-dance instructor (he lost 34 pounds and lasted five weeks on “Dancing with the Stars” in 2007), and powdered milk salesman. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune, Mark even started a chain letter while he was a student at Indiana University to help pay his tuition. He also opened a popular college bar in Bloomington that he called Motley's. Mark moved to Dallas in 1982 where he worked as a bartender and computer software salesman for a company called Your Business Software. He was soon fired from Your Business Software, and used some of his former employer's customers to start his own company MicroSolutions that he sold for $6 million. Mark then started Broadcast.com that grew to over 300 employees. He sold the company to Yahoo in 1999 for almost $6 billion.
Mark bought the Dallas Mavericks in 2000 from H. Ross Perot, Jr. for $285 million. When he purchased the team, the Mavericks were on a twenty-year down slide but Mark immediately pumped money and enthusiasm into the organization. He went to every game, complained a lot about officiating, and bought the team a $46 million jet.
His Mavericks shocked everyone by winning the 2011 NBA title beating the heavily-favored Miami Heat with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. According to Forbes, the Dallas Mavericks are the sixth-most valuable basketball franchise in the United States, worth about $438 million.
Mark and his wife, Tiffany, and their three children live in the Preston Hollow area of Dallas in a 24,000 square foot mansion. It is one of the most expensive properties in Dallas County with 10 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, a pool and tennis court.
James Dolan | Owner New York Knicks
Although he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, thanks to his very wealthy, cable-TV pioneer father Charles Dolan, James has learned the business from the ground up, including a stint in Cleveland as a sports-radio station manager. Today, James is the president of Cablevision Systems Corporation and executive chairman of Madison Square Garden (MSG) and an owner of the New York Knicks. Riddled with controversy, a stint at the Hazelden clinic for drug problems, and bad luck with his purchase of the Wiz electronics stores that went kaput, Dolan is unpopular with Knicks fans who accuse him of bad management and poor business decisions. Fans blame Dolan for the team's problems pointing to missteps like paying former player Allan Houston a 6-year, $100 million contract in 2001 - about $25 million more than any other team offered. Houston retired four years later with over $40 million left on his contract. The Knicks have not won a playoff game since 2001 and a fan poll by Sports Illustrated ranked Dolan as the worst owner in the NBA. James started the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research and has donated money to many other causes including a hospital in Africa and Hurricane Katrina victims.
Dolan, 55, is married and resides in Oyster Bay on Long Island with his second wife, Kristin, a Cablevision executive. They have five children and live in a lavish 10,000-square-foot Colonial mansion in Oyster Bay, next door to his father's even more lavish home. Dolan also owns a smaller adjacent house, which he's converted into a music studio for his music band. Dolan performs blues-inspired rock as the singer for JD & The Straight Shot. He tried to sell his home in 2006 for $13.5 million but it didn't sell.
Wycliffe Groesbeck | Owner Boston Celtics
You may have never heard of Wycliffe "Wyc" Grousbeck, but he is the part owner and CEO of the Boston Celtics, one of the NBA's most valuable teams, worth about $500 million. Wyc grew up in New England and went to the best schools getting his bachelors degree at Princeton University (where he was on the school's undefeated rowing team), a law degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Stanford's School of Business. He was a partner for seven years at a venture capital firm and bought the Celtics along with his father, H. Irving Grousbeck, and his friend Stephen Pagliuca in 2002 for $360 million. Wyc's father is a professor at Stanford Business School and was a visiting lecturer at Harvard Business School in the 1980s who specializes in entrepreneurship topics and issues. Grousbeck Sr. also co-founded Continental Cablevision. Stephen Pagliuca is a private money investor and managing partner of Bain Capital. He was one of four Democratic candidates to fill Ted Kennedy's vacant U.S. Senate seat in 2009, but finished last.
Although the Celtics were the dominant NBA team from the 1950s into the 80s with 16 NBA championships, they had not won an NBA title since 1986 and the team was nothing special when Wyc's group bought the team in 2002. And then things got worse. They lost their star player Paul Pierce to a foot injury at the beginning of the 2006 - 2007 season and had only two wins in their next 24 games. They finished the year with a 24 - 58 record landing at the bottom of the NBA standings.
Their luck quickly changed when the Celtics obtained both Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen for the 2007 - 2008 season. They started the new season with a bang winning their first eight games, finished the year with a 66-16 record and won the NBA Championship after a gap of 22 years. It was their 17th NBA title.
Wyc and his wife Corinne live in a traditional New England-style mansion in Weston, Massachusetts with their two children, Kelsey and Campbell. They were living in California but moved to Boston for medical care of their son Campbell who was born blind with Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare inherited eye disease.
Dr. Jerry Buss | Owner LA Lakers
Jerry Buss is a real estate investor and former chemist, who likes to be called “Doctor”. He was born in Salt Lake City in 1934, grew up in Wyoming and graduated from the University of Wyoming. He then moved to Los Angeles and earned both a masters degree and Ph.D in chemistry at the University of Southern California. Like Jerry Reinsdorf, Buss started out as a federal employee working as a chemist for the United States Bureau of Mines, and then worked briefly in the aerospace industry. He became a professor at the University of Southern California's chemistry department, and invested in real estate in his spare time to make enough money to continue his teaching.
However with spectacular success in the real estate business, Jerry eventually dumped teaching and went into the real estate business full time. In 1979, Jerry bought Hollywood's most famous home, the “Pickfair Mansion”, where Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford once lived, and maintained it until selling it to Pia Zadora in 1988. Buss has also been a high-stakes, cash-game poker player for many years. His best finishes include third place in the 1991 World Series of Poker Seven-Card Stud event and a second-place finish in the 2003 World Poker Tour Freeroll Invitational. He has appeared in the GSN-TV “High Stakes Poker” show and the NBC-TV series “Poker After Dark” .
Jerry bought the Los Angeles Lakers (they were the Minneapolis Lakers until 1961 - their name comes from the Minnesota nickname "Land of 10,000 Lakes"), the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League, and The Forum, where the Lakers and Kings played in 1979 for $67.5 million. At that time, it was the largest transaction in sports history. Since he bought the team, the Lakers have won 10 NBA championships with player stars like Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal and celebrity fans such as Jack Nicholson, Nikki Hilton, Sean Combs and Cameron Diaz. Jerry donated $7.5 million to USC's Department of Chemistry in 2008.
Jerry Buss lives in a $3.68 million mansion in Playa del Rey, California. He purchased the home of 10,846 square feet in 1995.
Jerry Reinsdorf | Owner Chicago Bulls
Jerry was born in 1936 in Brooklyn. His father was a sewing machine salesman. Jerry grew up near Ebbets Field and was at the Dodgers ballpark on the day that Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier. He graduated from George Washington University and moved to Chicago where he attended the University of Chicago Law School and Northwestern University School of Law. As an attorney, Jerry's first job was with the Internal Revenue Service. He soon left the IRS and went into private law practice, making millions while specializing in real estate tax shelters. Jerry bought the Chicago White Sox for $19 million at age 45 and made the long-losing team both profitable and a winner with five division titles and the 2005 World Series title. He bought the Chicago Bulls in 1985 for $16 million, and was largely responsible for turning a declining franchise into the most dominant basketball team of the 1990s with six NBA World Championships and 13 years of sell-out games. Forbes estimates the value of the White Sox at $450 million and the Bulls at $500 million.
Reinsdorf lives in a large home fronting a golf course in Highland Park, IL.The home is surrounded by trees and is located among similar sized homes in the golf community.
Robert Sarver | Owner Phnx Suns
An Arizona native, Robert was born in 1961 and has been the majority owner of the Phoenix Suns since 2004. His father was Jack Sarver, a prominent Tucson businessman, banker and Howard Johnson's hotel developer, who was one of the first people in the United States to undergo bypass surgery. Jack Sarver died from a heart attack in 1979. Robert attended the University of Arizona where he earned a degree in business administration and founded the National Bank of Arizona when he was only 23 years old. He developed it into the largest independent bank in Arizona and sold it in 1994 to Zions Bancorporation. Robert is on several corporate boards of directors including the Sarver Heart Center (named after his father) at the University of Arizona. Robert is not one of the most popular owners in the league. Fans accuse him of being cheap, too quick to sell draft picks, and too slow to spend money on free agents. His best player is Steve Nash who is also one of the lowest-paid stars in the NBA. A local sports columnist wrote in 2011 that Sarver is: "widely considered among the worst owners in sports".
Robert and his family live in a new $14 million estate in the Phoenix area. The estate has just about everything you would want in a home including 12 patios and a 12-car garage. The best thing about the house is its backyard basketball playground with a huge Phoenix Suns blue, gold and orange logo painted on the court.
Richard DeVos | Owner Orlando Magic
If you have ever been dragged to an Amway opportunity meeting, you can thank the owner of the Orlando Magic. Richard DeVos started Amway (American Way) along with Jay Van Andel in 1959 in Ada, Michigan. They pioneered the multi-level method of selling and distributing vitamins, cosmetics and cleaning supplies (their first product was an organic cleaner they called Frisk) that eventually grew into a $9 billion per year business operating in over 100 countries. Richard bought the Orlando Magic in 1991, shortly before they won the first pick in the 1992 NBA draft lottery and selected 7'1” center Shaquille O'Neal. The Magic won the first pick again in the 1993 NBA draft and added Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway to their lineup, and became one of the top teams in the league. With all-stars O'Neal and Hardaway, the Magic won 50 games in the 1993 - 1994 season and 57 games in 1995 - 1996. They made it to the championship finals in 1996 but lost to the Houston Rockets in four games. After O'Neal left in 1996, Orlando started a gradual downward spiral that culminated in the 2003 - 2004 season when they lost 19 consecutive games. They have made it to the playoffs ten times since O'Neal left but usually didn't get past the first round. Richard had bypass heart surgeries in 1983 and 1992 and a transplant in 1997. He is worth about $5 billion.
DeVos is the father of four children and lives in a large beachfront home in Manalapan, Florida that opens to the bay with boat dock in the back that has deep water access to the Atlantic.
Clayton Bennett | Owner OKC Thunder
Clay Bennett, a native of Oklahoma City, has received many honors for his civic interests and activities and is deeply involved in the effort to revitalize and develop the downtown area of the city. He is President of Dorchester Capital, a private investment firm and serves as chairman of the Oklahoma City Thunder. He also serves on multiple civic boards and committees and is director of XOS Digital, Inc. He is married to Louise Gaylord Bennett, who's father was Edward L. Gaylord of Gaylord Entertainment Company and its many holdings, including The Oklahoman newspaper. Bennett purchased the Seattle Super Sonics through his ownership group, Professional Basketball Club, LLC, of which he is chairman. When it became apparent that the public funding of $500 million to build a new arena was unattainable, Bennett notified the NBA of his intent to move the franchise to Oklahoma City. He issued a plan whereby he would be free to change the team name, logo and colors. Pending the outcome of two active lawsuits by the city to uphold the lease and the former owner to rescind the purchase, the NBA gave approval to move the franchise for the 2008 - 2009 season. A settlement agreement with the city was reached in July, 2008, which made the move to Oklahoma possible. Due to this success, Bennett was made chairman of the NBA's Relocation Committee.
Clayton and Louise Bennett live in Nichols Hills, a suburb of Oklahoma City. They have three children.
Paul Allen | Owner Portland Trailblazers
Paul Allen is a man of diversified interests and talent. He was born in Seattle and became friends with Bill Gates when they attended school together in Seattle. Paul was 14 and Bill was 12 at the time. Their friendship developed primarily due to their common interest in the new-age idea of home computers. After Paul dropped out of Washington State University and he convinced Bill to leave Harvard, they created Microsoft in 1975 to develop and market computer software. Their clients included Steve Job from Apple. Bill and Paul's big computer breakthrough came in 1981 when Microsoft bought the operating system Q-DOS, which under their reinvention of the system, became known as MS-DOS. Paul resigned from Microsoft in 1983 after learning he had Hodgkin's Disease, and would have to undergo a series of radiation therapy. He was only 30, but already a billionaire from the value of his Microsoft stock holdings. Since that time, Allen has turned to other projects, all in areas toward his long-term goal of a “wired world society” where all people would be online. He invested in a multitude of communications vehicles from computers to cable to entertainment, such as Dream Works, Imagine Entertainment, Charter Communications, and Oxygen Media with Oprah Winfrey.
Paul is a big Jimi Hendrix fan and he owns the guitar that Hendrix played at Woodstock. Paul plays rhythm guitar for the Seattle band, Grown Men. He also owns one of the largest yachts in the world at 416 feet. Having never married, according to a 60 Minutes interview, he still hopes he meets someone and still wants a family.
Paul bought the Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 for $70 million. Under his ownership, the Blazers reached the NBA Finals in both 1990 and 1992, and continued their consecutive home games sell-out streak of 814 games that ended in 1995. The 2000's started off bad for the team with legal problems including several players charged with marijuana possession, one player who was convicted of staging pit bull dog fights in his house, and another player who was suspended for seven games for threatening a referee. After several dismal seasons, the Trail Blazers made the playoffs in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Allen also purchased the Seattle Seahawks in 1997 for $194 million to keep the team in the Pacific Northwest. According to Forbes, the two teams are now worth a total of about $1.3 billion.
Paul is one of the largest charitable contributors in the United States. Since 1990, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has given away over $400 million.
Paul lives in a large estate-compound over 9 acres on Mercer Island in Seattle with multiple buildings including his own home at 10,680 square feet, his mother's home at 11,300 square feet, a car museum, indoor pool, gym, two indoor tennis courts, concert hall, and three guest homes.
David Stern | Owner New Orleans Hornets
Pro basketball has undergone a rather strange trip in New Orleans. The city had the New Orleans Jazz from 1974 until 1979 when the team moved to Utah and became the Utah Jazz. The Hornets actually started off in Charlotte, North Carolina where they played from 1988 to 2002, but moved to New Orleans to replace the departed Jazz in 2002. The New Orleans Hornets then left for Oklahoma City after Hurricane Katrina almost destroyed the town in 2005. While they were in Oklahoma they were called the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets and played most of their home games at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, but they still played a few of their home games in New Orleans. After two years in Oklahoma, they returned to New Orleans in 2007. Today, the Hornets are different than every other team in the NBA as they are actually owned by the league. With David Stern at the helm, the NBA owners decided in 2010 to purchase the Hornets for $300 million, with the idea that the league would have greater control over the eventual sale of the franchise to a buyer who would keep the team in New Orleans.
David Joel Stern obtained his law degree in 1966 from Columbia Law School. Stern is quoted in saying about his education, “Others talk about working as clerks for supreme court justices or federal judges, but I enjoy saying that my first clerkship was at Stern's Delicatessen". As a young lawyer, David was hired by the Proskauer Rose Goetz & Mendelsohn law firm and became the youngest partner in their history at age 32. While working at the law firm, Stern helped to arrange the 1976 NBA merger with the ABA. He left the firm in 1978 to join the NBA and became its commissioner in 1984. In his 33 years with the NBA, David is widely considered to be one of the best sports executives in the United States. He is largely responsible for bringing the NBA from near bankruptcy into a profitable organization.
David Stern and his wife, Dianne Bock Stern, live in Scarsdale, NY. They have two adult sons.