Thursday, December 31

Top 10 Basketball’s billionaire owners

Paul Allen

Team: Portland TrailblazersPaul Allen Net Worth: $11.5 billion

Microsoft co-founder turning his small market team around. Last year the Trailblazers made the playoffs for first time in six seasons; team has increased revenue nearly 50% in two years. Washington State dropout founded software giant with buddy Bill Gates in 1975; left in 1983 after Hodgkin's disease diagnosis. Sold off much of his stake to lose huge sums on far-off visions through holding company, Vulcan. Recently launched software outfit Xiant, whose product Filer helps users keep track of e-mails in Microsoft's Outlook. Also owns football's Seattle Seahawks

Philip Anschutz

Team: Los Angeles LakersPhilip Anschutz Net Worth: $6 billion

Worth $607 million, the Lakers are most valuable team in NBA; won NBA championship last season. Stars like Kobe Bryant keep Staple Center packed and seats expensive. Through his company AEG, Anschutz owns hockey's L.A. Kings, stakes in two European hockey teams, and two Major League Soccer franchises (the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo). He also owns the Staples Center.

Micky Arison

Team: Miami HeatMicky Arison Net Worth: $4.3 billion

Miami Heat owner suffering in cold Florida economy. Last season the team's attendance fell 8.6% despite cuts in ticket prices. Israeli-American took over Carnival Cruise business from father Ted in 1990. Today operates 93 ships under 11 brands, including Cunard, Princess, Holland America. Company claims 225,000 people are sailing on its flagship fleet at any given time.

Richard DeVos

Team: Orlando MagicRichard DeVos Net Worth: $4.2 billion

The Magic made the NBA finals last season, but lost out to the Los Angeles Lakers. Strong season helped raise the team's net income by $5 million. Squad's new arena, Amway Center, scheduled to open next fall. DeVos co-founded Amway in 1959 with high school chum and fellow WWII vet Jay Van Andel (d. 2004); reorganized as Alticor in 2000. Used direct-selling to turn all-purpose-cleaner company into a consumer products empire. Retired 1993; youngest son, Doug, lords over a sales staff of 3 million in 80 countries.

Stanley Kroenke

Team: Denver NuggetsStanley Kroenke Net Worth: $2.7 billion

The Nuggets had their best season since 1988 last year: won 54 games, advanced to Western Conference finals before losing to the Lakers. Kroenke owns Nuggets' home, the Pepsi Center; one of the most successful privately financed arenas. Made first fortune developing commercial and retail properties, later moved into sports: owns pro hockey's Colorado Avalanche, plus stakes in football's St. Louis Rams and English soccer titan Arsenal.

Mark Cuban

Team: Dallas MavericksMark Cuban Net Worth: $2.4 billion

Cuban keeps spending in his quest for a championship; has handed out $390 million for payroll, plus an additional $68 million in luxury tax payments over last four seasons. Launched audio and video portal with college buddy Todd Wagner. Sold to Yahoo! in 1999 for $5.7 billion in stock; a decade later the domain just redirects to Yahoo!'s home page. Invested in entertainment via HDNet, 2929 Entertainment, Lions Gate.

Charles F. Dolan & Family

Charles F. Dolan & Family Team: New York Knicks
Net Worth: $2.3 billion

The Knicks poor performance in recent years has knocked the team from their perch as the most valuable franchise in the NBA; squad has lost 4% of value since last year. Team has lost two-thirds of its games the past five years. The Dolan family also owns Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, and hockey's New York Rangers. Planning public spin-off of MSG later this year; family expected to still control sports teams.

Glen Taylor

Glen Taylor Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
Net Worth: $2.2 billion

The Timberwolves value dropped 11% since last year as five poor seasons and only 24 wins in 2008 dampened ticket demand. Last season gave away 5,000 tickets; has lowered prices on 95% of the seats. Former Minnesota state senator's first job: napkin stamper at Carlson Wedding Service. Bought majority interest from owner Bill Carlson 1975, founded Taylor Corp. Invested in agribusiness on Iowa and Minnesota farmland; sells liquefied eggs to food companies and restaurants.

Michael E. Heisley Sr.

Team: Memphis GrizzliesMichael E. Heisley Sr. Net Worth: $1.5 billion

Bought Vancouver Grizzlies in 2000, moved to Memphis a year later. Team has second-lowest value in NBA, churning through eight coaches in nine years. Heisley used $150,000 profit from selling home and $10 million in bank loans to acquire Conco, maker of sewer and drain equipment, in 1979. Expanded; bought several near-bankrupt Rust Belt manufacturers. Today Heico operates 40 companies: steel, construction, aviation equipment.

Herbert Simon

Team: Indiana PacersHerbert Simon
Net Worth: $1.25 billion

Rough Indiana economy punishing Pacers' fan base: team 27th in NBA during 2008-09 season in attendance, last during 2007-08. Simon runs the Conseco Fieldhouse; city of Indianapolis owns it. Asked city for financial aid because he can not afford the $15 million in annual operating expenses. With brother Melvin, became a billionaire building shopping malls. Today Simon Property Group is the largest publicly traded real estate investment trust in the U.S.



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