Ranking NBA owners: where do Raptors bosses rank?

TORONTO, CANADA - JULY 14: DeMar DeRozan /

Should Raptors fans care about team ownership? I think so, and so do the purveyors of an online poll.

I note with interest a poll on Hoops Hype asking readers to rank NBA team owners. While a strong owner of an NBA franchise is certainly no guarantee of a winning organization, the co-relation between ownership and success on the court is tight.

The Toronto Raptors are listed as being owned by Larry Tanenbaum for purposes of the poll. That’s not true, though he does retain the largest single minority position, and is the ownership face of the franchise. Propping up corporate logos of Bell and Rogers wouldn’t have the same impact.

As of this writing, Tanenbaum sits tenth, which is presumably around where he’ll stay. Leading the pack is Julianna Hawn Holt, who married her way into the family which owns the San Antonio Spurs. Mark Cuban, the ultra-high profile Dallas Mavericks owner, is the second most popular (? – highly regarded/least disliked – ?).

SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 22: Kevin Durant
SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 22: Kevin Durant /

Stay out of my deals, sir

The owners garnering the least respect, if not outright hostility, are no surprise. They are the ones who consistently meddle in their teams’ roster decisions, usually with disastrous results. At the bottom is James Dolan, the ham-handed Knicks boss. Mikhael Prohorov, the Russian plutocrat in possession of the Brooklyn Nets, is also held in low regard. His decision to try to buy a title by acquiring elderly players (Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce) in exchange for draft picks might be the worst deal in NBA history.

Vivek Ranadive, a brilliant man in Information Technology but out of his depth in hoops, gets lots of downvotes from Sacramento Kings fans. Dan Gilbert of the Cleveland Cavaliers manages to break the link between low-profile ownership and winning. His team is terrific, but Gilbert retains an ability of finding cow pies to step in. If LeBron James exits Cleveland a second time, Gilbert will be vilified in Ohio. He’s ahead of only Dolan in the poll’s disdain, and two worse than Ranadive.

Back at the top, we hear nothing about Holt of the Spurs to indicate an interfering nature, which is wise on her part. You would need an ego the size of Texas to mess with an organization so ridiculously successful for so many years.

Other well-thought-of owners include those of the Warriors, Celtics and Jazz, winning teams all.

Larry has learned

My biggest gripe with Tanenbaum is in the past. He allowed Richard Peddie to run the Maple Leafs and Raptors for too long in the early years of this century. Peddie made horrible executive selections for both teams (Rob Babcock as Raps GM – ouch), but he’s gone. Larry is low-profile, and knows enough to leave personnel decisions to Masai Ujiri and his lieutenants.

Let’s hope Larry has a thoughtful succession plan in place, so we Raptors fans don’t ever have to cope with instant-expert ownership. It’s disastrous – just ask Knicks followers.

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