If you are the principal owner or governor of an NBA franchise you’re not worried about paying your cellphone bill. But there are levels to this. Some NBA owners’ net worth significantly dwarfs others.
Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Steve Ballmer has a net worth of $90.2 billion. The former CEO of Microsoft was the company’s 30th employee back in 1980 and oversaw the company during a high-growth period. In 2014 he bought the Clippers for $2 billion.
Ballmer is the wealthiest owner by a wide margin. Who else is in the multi-billionaire club and who’s rich but nowhere close to wealthy?
Portland Trail Blazers owner Jody Allen’s net worth is reportedly $22 billion. Allen is the sister of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Upon Paul’s death in 2018 she assumed control over his estate, including the Trail Blazers and the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL.
Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert’s net worth is $20.8 billion. He co-founded what would become Quicken Loans, the largest mortgage lender in the U.S., in 1985 at 22 years old.
If you combined Gilbert and Allen’s net worth you’d still be $47.4 billion short of Ballmer.
If you’re net worth was $47.4B you could buy half the NBA franchises and still be worth roughly $2.4 billion.
Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera is the last member of the 11-digit club. The founder and CEO of wireless equipment maker Ubiquiti Networks has a net worth of $14.7 billion.
The 10-digit club is where the majority of NBA owners reside. Nineteen in total have net worths between $1-9 billion.
Denver Nuggets’ owner Ann Walton Kroenke and Brooklyn Nets’ owner Joe Tsai are the wealthiest of this crew.
Kroenke is not only an heiress to the Walmart fortune. Her husband Stan Kroenke is a self-made billionaire who is one of the largest single land owners in North America. Kroenke Sports & Entertainment is the holding company for Arsenal F.C., the Los Angeles Rams, and the Colorado Avalanche, in addition to the Nuggets.
Tsai is the vice chairman and co-founder of Alibaba Group. Think of Alibaba as China’s Amazon. Only Amazon does three times the annual revenue of Alibaba.
If Kroenke and Tsai combined their net worths it would still be less than Dan Gilbert’s.
One of the more interesting owners in the 10-digit club is the Houston Rockets’ Tilman Fertitta. He has a net worth of $5.6 billion. Fertitta also owns the Golden Nugget Casinos and Landry’s restaurant and entertainment company. Obviously a wealthy man, but not a very liquid one. That came to bear when he purchased the Rockets in 2017 for $2.2 billion.
Fertitta needed then-owner Les Alexander to loan him $275 million in order to complete his purchase of the Rockets, as he and his businesses had less than $300 million in cash when he began the process of purchasing the Rockets. Fertitta also assumed $175 million in debt as a part of the deal. Fertitta sold $1.42 billion in bonds, which led to the $1.75 billion in equity that was used to buy the Rockets.
Then there is the Fertitta family history, which is questionable …
New York Knicks owner James Dolan’s net worth is estimated at $2 billion. He’s one of the least popular owners in all of sports. But he’s wealthy and he has a band! Don’t laugh. JD & The Straight Shot headline at Madison Square Garden …
What about the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers?
Their governors, Wyc Grousbeck and Jeanie Buss, respectively, are members of the nine digit club. Very rich, to be clear. But not in the billionaire class. If they combined their net worths, they’d be $100 million short of the billionaires club.
All these people have more money than they know what to do with, but there are levels to this.