Owner Profiles: Atlantic Division
With the lockout in full effect, we here at HOOPSWORLD continue our look at what comprises the “Owners” side of the debate with a look at the men behind the teams of the Atlantic Division. Who are the owners, where did they come from, and what have they done?
While the NBA will debate the validity of these numbers, we will use the 2010 Forbes Magazine NBA valuations as a means of comparing the teams to each other. Forbes doesn’t claim these are 100% accurate – they are estimates – and they may not match an actual bottom line figure, but in the absence of having actual figures Forbes’ numbers are a starting point. Plus, the relative difference in the numbers between teams is still likely accurate.
Boston Celtics – Wyc Grousbeck
Ownership Group: Collectively the Celtics are owned by Boston Basketball Partners LLC, comprised of Wyc Grousbeck, H. Irving Grousbeck, Steve Pagliuca, and The Abbey Group, represented by Robert Epstein.
Purchase Price (year): $360 million (2002)
2010 Forbes Valuation: $452 million
2010 Forbes Revenue: $151 million
Education: Bachelor’s, Princeton University; MBA, Stanford University; J.D., University of Michigan
Other Business Interests: Before putting together Boston Basketball Partners Grousbeck was a partner at Highland Capital Partners, a venture capital firm. The firm specializes in seed money and early investment in firms in communications, media, healthcare and information technology markets. He reduced his role at HCP to advisor after buying the Celtics.
Notable Team Achievements: Boston has been to the playoffs in seven of nine seasons since the sale, winning the NBA championship in 2008 behind Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. They returned to the Finals in 2010 and three other times advanced to the second round.
Ownership Philosophy: Ownership is involved in the day-to-day workings of the team, but listens to their basketball people, namely Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers. They aren’t afraid to spend money and are willing to pay the luxury tax for a winner.
New Jersey Nets – Mikhail Prokhorov
Ownership Group: Prokhorov owns an 80% stake in the Nets. Bruce Ratner, the previous owner, has the majority of the remaining 20%, with the rest owned by Sean “Jay-Z” Carter.
Purchase Price (year): $260 million (2010)
2010 Forbes Valuation: $312 million
2010 Forbes Revenue: $89 million
Education: Bachelor’s, State Institute of Moscow
Other Business Interests: During the early years of free Russia, Prokhorov made his money in mining metal ore, namely Norlisk Nickel. He is also chairman of Polyus Gold. Prokhorov owned that assets under a company named Interros, co-owned by Vladimir Potanan. They agreed to split the group in 2007. Prokhorov then launched ONEXIM Group with $17.5 billion in assets. ONEXIM is a private investment group with assets in finance, media, energy, mining and more. As part of the purchase of the Nets Prokhorov also bought a state in the Atlantic Yards Project, run by Bruce Ratner and where the Nets will move to in Brooklyn when the new stadium is finished. That deal includes a 45% stake in the Barclays Center. Last year Forbes reported Prokhorov’s net worth to be $13.4 billion.
Notable Team Achievements: The Nets won just 12 games in 2009-10, but doubled that total to 24 in 2010-11.
Ownership Philosophy: It’s expected that the Nets will be a team who is willing to spend whatever it takes to build a winner. They made a hard run at LeBron James last summer and then acquired point guard Deron Williams at the trade deadline in February. Look for them to spend for stars.
New York Knicks – James Dolan
Ownership Group: Madison Square Garden, Inc. (spun off from Cablevision in 2010)
Purchase Price (year): $300 million (1997)
2010 Forbes Valuation: $655 million
2010 Forbes Revenue: $226 million
Education: Attended State University of New York at New Paltz
Other Business Interests: Dolan is the son of Cablevision founder Charles Dolan and is currently the company’s president and CEO. He spun off Madison Square Garden, Inc from Cablevision in 2010 and is the executive chairman. MSG, Inc. is comprised of three parts: MSG Sports, MSG Media and MSG Entertainment. MSG Sports owns the Knicks, the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the NHL’s New York Rangers, and the AHL’s Connecticut Whales. MSG Media runs their cable channels: MSG Network, MSG Plus, Fuse TV and MSG Varsity. MSG Entertainment runs Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theater, and the Chicago Theater.
Notable Team Achievements: The Knicks have made the playoffs seven times since 1997 and 2011 marked their return for the first time since 2004. They lost in the NBA Finals in 1999, the Eastern Conference Finals in 2000, and reached the second round two other times.
Ownership Philosophy: Dolan has been heavily criticized for how he runs his teams (both the Knicks and Rangers). He is involved and will spend money, but may let those under him do too much (Isiah Thomas). Dolan should be given credit for allowing Donnie Walsh to perform the tear down and rebuilding of the franchise around stars Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.
Philadelphia 76ers – Joshua Harris*
Ownership Group: David Blitzer and Jason Levien are also part of the group. Comcast/Spectacor retains a 10%, non-voting, stake in the Sixers.*
Purchase Price (year): $280 million (2011)*
2010 Forbes Valuation: $330 million
2010 Forbes Revenue: $110 million
Education: Bachelor’s, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; MBA, Harvard University
Other Business Interests: Harris is the co-found of private equity firm Apollo Global Management, which has $70 billion in assets. Apollo invests in distressed properties, mostly real estate and the stranded assets of European banks. Forbes estimates his net worth at about $1.5 billion. Blitzer is a senior executive at The Blackstone Group.
Notable Team Achievements: The Sixers lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2011.
Ownership Philosophy: Way too early to tell, but the word on the street is the new ownership will not instigate any major changes to management or demand the reduction of salary obligations. Change may come, but it will be after a period of review.
* The deal is still pending approval by the NBA’s Board of Governors, which should come in August.
Toronto Raptors – Larry Tanenbaum, Chairman (Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Ltd.)
Ownership Group: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) is owned 79.5% by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and 20.5% by Kilmer Sports, Inc. Kilmer Sports is owned by Tanenbaum.
Purchase Price (year): $125 million (1998)
2010 Forbes Valuation: $399 million
2010 Forbes Revenue: $138 million
Education: Bachelor’s, Cornell University
Other Business Interests: MLSE also owns the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, MLS’ Toronto FC, the Canadian Soccer League’s TFC Academy, the Air Canada Centre, Real Sports Bar & Grill, Maple Leaf Square (real estate), NBA TV Canada, Leafs TV, and GolTV Canada. They also manage BMO Field and Ricoh Coliseum. Tanenbaum is chairman and CEO of Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Limited, an international heavy construction firm. He is also the chairman of Kilmer Capital Partners, a private equity fund. In 2010 his net worth was valued at $970 million Canadian ($1.02 billion US).
Notable Team Achievements: The Raptors have reached the playoffs five times in their history, the last in 2008. They advanced to the second round once.
Ownership Philosophy: The Raptors are not a team who spends over the luxury tax. They are conservative, usually, though management has been allowed to take risks in the draft, spending top picks on players like Andrea Bargnani and Jonas Valunciunas.