The casual fan only hears about players being traded and players deciding to enter into free agency, but they dismiss the team management and ownership as some sort of Illuminati presence. It’s interesting to think that some of the guys who cut the checks for the most talented basketball players in the world started off in humbler times.
Cleveland Cavaliers – 12th Most Valuable Franchise in the NBA
- Owner: Dan Gilbert
- Championships: 1
- Price Paid: $375 M
- Year Purchased: 2005
- Revenue: $191 M
- Operating Income: $24.8 M
- Debt/Value: 18%
- Player Expenses: $87 M
- Revenue per Fan: $69
- Metro Area Population: 2.1 M
(Stats from Forbes, as of January 2016)
The new NBA champion team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, is owned by Dan Gilbert. He is the founder of Rock Ventures, which was purchased in 2000 by Intuit and turned into Quicken Loans, for which Gilbert was the CEO. He is not only a majority owner of the Cavs, but also the Lake Erie Monsters (hockey), Cleveland Gladiators (Arena Football), and the NBA D-League Canton Charge.
He is known for his seething butthurt open letter to Cleveland fans and residents in 2010, berating LeBron James for his “cowardly betrayal” in leaving the club. He also stated: “I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE. You can take it to the bank.” Well, the self-titled former ‘King’ won two and then came back and won one for Cleveland, but I love it when NBA owners show their passion for the game. David Stern, however, did not appreciate it and fined him $100,000.
Gilbert would publicly thank LeBron during the Cleveland Championship Parade, to which LeBron reciprocated with a quarter-second of eye contact and a thumbs up.
This still also provides an interesting image of the typical player/owner relationship in the NBA.
With a shiny new championship banner to hang in their stadium, a die-hard Cleveland fan base, and the game’s biggest superstar in LeBron, the Cavaliers organization has great things in store for the future.
Golden State Warriors – 6th Most Valuable Franchise in the NBA
- Owner: Joe Lacob, Peter Guber
- Championships: 4
- Price Paid: $450 M
- Year Purchased: 2010
- Revenue: $201 M
- Player Expenses: $80 M
- Gate Receipts: $77 M
- Revenue per Fan: $36
- Metro Area Population: 4.3 M
Although the Golden State Warriors did not bring home another championship this year, they are undeniably one of the most spectacular organizations in the NBA. They shattered all sorts of records this season and played their part in one of the best Game 7s in recent history.
Joe Lacob is a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of the largest and most established venture capital firms in Silicon Valley. This is only fitting for a team in the Bay Area. Lacob was born in Massachusetts and grew up a Boston Celtics fan. His family relocated to Anaheim and he switched his allegiances to the Los Angeles Lakers – a bold move for a Celtics fan. He would earn a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Irvine, followed by a Master’s in Public Health from UCLA, and then an MBA from Stanford.
“I was a very poor kid,” Lacob recalled. “Had nothing. I paid every dime of my education through college. Every single dime. I was the first person to graduate from college in the history of my family. Ever. I came from nothing.”
Peter Guber is Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, and his films have earned over $3 billion dollars across the world and over fifty Academy Award nominations. He is a co-owner of the Warriors, the LA Dodgers (baseball), and the Los Angeles FC (soccer).