Do you know who the richest NBA team owners are? Over the years, the NBA has improved its T.V. rights and global audience. As a result, the industry is making more money than ever before. NBA team owners are ranked among the top 350 wealthiest people in the world.
Incidentally, most of the affluent NBA club owners were not born rich. They had to work their way up the sports business ladder. Some of them had to buy small, less recognized teams decades ago and work hard to turn them into lucrative sports empires that we see today.
Richest NBA team owners in 2020
The top 10 NBA owners net worth combined amounts to more than $100 billion. Given that Forbes estimates the average NBA team to be worth $634 million, these franchise owners must be wealthy.
10. Mark Cuban of the Dallas Mavericks - $4.3 billion
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We start our richest NBA owners list with the owner of arguably the most consistent team in NBA history. Since 2001, a year after Cuban bought the Mavericks, all its home game tickets have been sold out.
Mark Cuban is the perfect definition of humble beginnings. He started as a bartender in Dallas in early 1982 before working as a salesperson at Your Business Software, a P.C. software business. A year later, Mark founded Micro Solutions, which he sold to CompuServe in 1990 for $6 million.
In 1995, the diligent investor co-founded AudioNet, which later changed its name to Broadcast.com. Yahoo took an interest in the company, and they bought it for $5.7 billion in 1999.
To avoid suffering a crash, Cuban decided to diversify his investment with the earnings from Yahoo. That saw him invest in the Dallas Mavericks in 2001, Landmark Theatres in 2003, among many other businesses.
Mark Cuban is a cast member in ABC's popular reality series Shark Tank. Since he became the owner of the Mavericks, the team has won the NBA Finals, the Southwest Division, and the Western Conference.
9. Richard DeVos of Orlando Magic - $5.4 billion
A philanthropist in his own right, Richard DeVos transformed Orlando Magic. After buying the NBA franchise in 1991 for $85 million, DeVos improved the team's wealth to $560 million. In 2015, Richard and his family bought shares in the Chicago Cubs baseball team.
Mr. DeVos' wealth is attributed to Amway, a Michigan-based health, beauty, and home product brand. Amway is reportedly worth $8.8 billion and is being run partly by his children since he passed on.
8. Tom Gores of the Detroit Pistons - $5.7 billion
Tom Gores is a household name in the private equity sector. The successful entrepreneur bought the Detroit Pistons for $325 million in 2011 and has improved its net worth by about 38%. Currently, the team is worth $450 million.
Tom Gores was born in Israel. He moved to the U.S. at the age of five. His fortune is associated with his Los Angeles-based private equity firm called Platinum Equity. Some of the company's top clients are mobile giants Alcatel and Motorola.
The 55-year-old Israeli-American is looking forward to the time that the Detroit Pistons will win the Finals under his reign. In 2019, he funded the construction of a $90 million training center for the team.
7. Micky Arison of Miami Heat - $6.2 billion
Associated with the Carnival Cruises, Micky Arison is another vocal name in the NBA league. In recent seasons, Miami Heat has massively boosted the billionaire's wealth. Since 2011, the team's revenue has improved by 81%.
His father, Ted Arison, is the wealthiest man in Florida, and Micky is following closely. Originally from Tel Aviv, Arison moved to the U.S. at a young age. He dropped out of college to help his father run their cruise ship company called Carnival Corporation.
Later in 1987, he assumed the role of CEO at the company. He eventually stepped down from his position in 2013 to pursue other interests and concentrate on running the Miami Heat.
The 70-year-old Israeli-American NBA owner has led his team to win the league's Finals thrice and the Western Conference five times.
6. Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers - $6.9 billion
Following LeBron James' decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami Heat in 2010, the name Dan Gilbert became popular. That is after he wrote an open letter to the Cavs fans, promising that the team would win the Finals before LeBron did.
Unfortunately for him, King James managed to win two titles before returning to Cleveland. Since becoming the owner of the Cavs, 58-year-old Gilbert led the team to win the Finals once (2016), the Central Division and the Eastern Conference several times.
Gilbert's investment journey dates back to 1985 when he established Rock Financials, a mortgage lender. The company rebranded to Quicken Loans in 2002 and this ushered in a new dawn. The company is currently the second-largest online lender.
Dan Gilbert also owns Rock Ventures. The gaming franchise controls several casinos in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland.
5. Stanley Kroenke of the Denver Nuggets - $10 billion
The self-made billionaire Stanley Kroenke has leveraged his wealth and is now a proud owner of a mega-rich sports empire. He is not just the owner of the Denver Nuggets but also the owner of St. Luis Rams of the NFL and the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL.
What's more, Mr. Kroenke has majority stakes in Arsenal F.C. Together with his wife, Stanley owns the Colorado Rapids of the MLS. Stan's wife is Walmart's heiress, and the two are considered one of the richest couples in the world.
With so many investments in the U.S. and abroad, it does not come as a surprise that Stan Kroenke is among the wealthiest landowners in the U.S. He owns over 2 million acres in the United States.
4. Joseph Tsai of the Brooklyn Nets - $10.8 billion
Joseph Tsai is new to the NBA franchise business. He had initially bought 49% of the Brooklyn Nets in 2018 at $1 billion. He bought the remaining 51% late last year for $1.35 billion. Like most basketball team owners on our list, Tsai has a unique entrepreneurship journey.
The Taiwan-born entrepreneur co-founded Alibaba in 1999, and he is currently the second-largest shareholder of the retail giant.
Other than the NBA, Tsai also has interests in the MLS, where he owns the Los Angeles FC. As the Nets' owner, Tsai also has control over the Nets Gaming Crew and the Long Island Nets.
In addition to sports entrepreneurship, Tsai is a celebrated philanthropist and is vocal when it comes to matters politics.
3. Philip Anschutz of the Los Angeles Lakers - 11.8 billion
Together with the late Jerry Buss' family, Philip Anschutz has made the L.A. Lakers a very successful club. The notable billionaire is also a mega investor in the MLS. Currently, he owns L.A. Galaxy and partly owns the Houston Dynamo.
His billions are linked to multiples routes like real estate, entertainment, telecom, oil, and of course, sports. Mr. Anschutz bought the L.A. Lakers in 1998 for about $268 million. The current team value is $4.4 billion.
2. Paul Allen of the Portland Trail Blazers - $20.3 billion
It is not shocking that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is the second wealthiest individual in our list of NBA owners. He suffered from Hodgkin's lymphoma and passed on in 2018, leaving behind a staggering net worth of over $20 billion.
Other than having stakes in the giant software brand and now the Trail Blazers, Mr. Allen was also the owner of Seattle Seahawks of the NFL and he partly owned the Seattle Sounders.
Paul Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates back in 1975 but decided to leave the brand in 1983. He bought the Trail Blazers in 1988 for about $70 million.
1. Steve Ballmer of the Los Angeles Clippers - $55.7 billion
We finally arrive at the answer to this question: Who is the richest NBA owner? His name is Steve Ballmer and it is quite unlikely that anyone will displace him from the number one spot soon.
Ballmer is one of the richest people in the world. He ranked number 9 in The Forbes 400 2019 list and number 19 in the Billionaires 2019 Forbes list.
He joined Microsoft in 1980 but decided to leave in 2014. However, most of his fortune is still linked to the brand because he owns 300 million shares in the company. He is among the richest sports owners.
He served Microsoft as CEO for 14 years and is believed to have been its 30th employee. Steve Ballmer paid $2 billion to buy the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014, and the NBA team has increased its revenue by about $600 million since then.
Now you know the richest NBA team owners. This list may change in the next few months depending on how things go for the investors. We are likely to see some drops, rises, and new names by the end of the year.