10 Worst Owners in Sports: Apologies to Michael Jordan
Defense. Pitching. Quarterback play.
These things are said to win championships. But any Oakland Raiders fan will tell you, success is entirely dependent on one team aspect.
The following is a list of the 10 worst owners currently running a professional sports team, including the best and worst moves enacted during their tenure.
No. 10: Jim Crane
Jim Crane may have just gotten into the owner game, but he sure isn't starting off on the right foot.
Crane and the Houston Astros are projected to enter the season with the lowest team salary in the majors—a number currently just under $17 million.
Alex Rodriguez is slated to make $29 million in 2013.
How does that happen?
It may be the rookie owner's finances. One report said Crane borrowed $220 million to purchase the team in 2011. Crane's business is reportedly expected to bring in $1 billion in 2014, but it's unclear how much money he's willing to spend on the franchise.
Crane contends he's only building from the ground up, and that's very possible. But, boy is it painful.
Almost as painful as the Astros' prospects this season, their first in the American League.
Best Move: To be determined.
Worst Move: Shredding the team's budget by more than $43 million in one season.
No. 9: Jerry Jones
Jerry Jones, the enigma.
He's not on this list for his thriftiness. The Texas oil man is reportedly worth $2.7 billion, and he's employed many of the NFL's biggest and most expensive talents over the years.
And Jones' isn't here because of a lack of team investment—he's the team's general manager.
In those respects, he may be one of sports' best owners, similar to the late George Steinbrenner.
But what separates the two is their approach.
Steinbrenner owned the Yankees to win. Jones owns to play, to tinker.
Why else would he admit to Bob Costas he would have fired himself, only later stating that "there's no way that I would be involved here and not be the final decision maker?"
America's team, the franchise that won three Super Bowls in four years, has floundered over the last decade, collecting only one playoff win since 1997.
In that time Jones has become reactionary, toying with new coaching and management philosophies as if pieces to a lopsided Jenga puzzle.
Like Steinbrenner, time will only tell how fans will ultimately feel about the polarizing owner, but the 70-year-old better turn things around soon to have any shot at mending his legacy.
Best Move: Trading up to draft Emmitt Smith.
Worst Move: Trading for the Lions' Roy Williams.
No. 8: Charles Wang
Charles Wang, the owner of the New York Islanders since 2000, made this list for a number of reasons.
His team has been the worst in its conference five years running.
They haven't won a playoff series during his time there.
Eight coaches have manned the bench under his leadership.
And 2006 happened, the year he fired his general manager after 40 days—and hired his backup goalie to take over.
Wang and new GM Garth Snow then signed starting goalie Rick DiPietro to a record-setting 15-year deal worth $67.5 million.
Clearly Wang values goalies, but come on.
Best Move: Brooklyn relocation plans.
Worst Move: Signing DiPietro.
No. 7: Michael Jordan
If Michael Jordan doesn't turn the Bobcats around soon, he may be much higher on this list.
His current seat at No. 7 is only out of respect for the NBA's greatest player and his relatively green ownership.
Unlike many on this list, Jordan has only been a majority owner for two full seasons.
But he was in charge of basketball operations for the Bobcats for four years before becoming the franchise's head honcho, and handled personnel for the Wizards as well.
And it's hard to overlook Kwame Brown. It's hard to overlook Adam Morrison. It's hard to overlook the worst season in NBA history.
The good news is Charlotte can only go up from here, a fact Jordan seems to be aware of.
“Are we a playoff team? Come on, we can’t expect that,” he said in an interview at the beginning of the season. “But we need to get the ball rolling in the right direction."
So far that hasn't happened. Through 44 games, the team has a .250 winning percentage, the lowest in the league.
Best Move: Bringing himself out of retirement.
Worst Move: Drafting Brown.
Championships: Six...wait. Zero.
No. 6: Diamondbacks Ownership
The names Ken Kendrick, Jeff Royer and Mike Chipman don't hold the same weight of Jerry Jones or Michael Jordan, but make no mistake: Arizona fans know who they are.
That's because of where the Diamondbacks found themselves in 2004 when the trio became general partners of the franchise.
Prior to that year, the snakes had recorded five straight winning seasons and one of the decade's more memorable World Series victories.
They were the young guns, the new blood and, in many eyes, the darlings of the league. But over the next eight years, player after player has been dealt from the Diamondbacks, often with little coming back.
Some names traded during the trio's tenure: Randy Johnson, Brett Anderson, Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Quentin, Dan Haren, Jose Valverde, Max Scherzer, Mark Reynolds and Jarrod Parker.
The moves have come at a price. According to Arizona's website, attendance has dropped nearly 33 percent from a decade ago.
But wait, there's more. The Justin Upton trade winds started last season, right around the time Kendrick (seen above) announced to the world his thoughts about the young star.
"He's certainly not the Justin Upton that he has been in the past and that we would expect of him," he told a local radio host. "He's 24 years old, and it's time for him to be a consistent performer and right now this year he's not been that."
Maybe he'll be more consistent in Atlanta.
Best Move: Drafting Justin Upton.
Worst Move: Trading Justin Upton.
No. 5: James Dolan
It's been a long, teasing road for Knicks fans.
Call it James Dolan Way.
Two years after taking over the team, the Knickerbockers got all the way to the Finals.
Downhill from there.
Dolan's 2003 signing of Isiah Thomas was a disaster, one that led to Stephon Marbury, Steve Francis and Renaldo Balkman.
The Knicks' newest concoction of talent hasn't sorted itself out quite yet, but a team strapped to the defensive woes of Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire just doesn't seem like the right recipe.
And then there's the New York Rangers, also run by Dolan. A team that had the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Mike Richter at one time or another, still couldn't deliver Dolan his first title.
Oh don't be sad, New York. You've still got the Yankees.
Best Move: Hiring Donnie Walsh
Worst Move: Signing Allan Houston to a maximum contract.
No. 4: MLSE
This ownership group has also led not one, but two professional teams to the depths of their respective leagues.
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Group may not be well known to many sports aficionados south of the Great Lakes, but they practically run Toronto sports culture.
The group purchased the Raptors and Maple Leafs in the 1990s, intent on kick-starting one young franchise and resurrecting another.
No such luck.
Both teams had measured success early on in ownership, highlighted by six straight NHL playoff appearances for the Leafs and the selection of Vince Carter as MLSE's first pick.
Since then aspirations have faded, as has faith in the Toronto conglomerate.
The Maple Leafs, which have hoisted the Stanley Cup 13 times, haven't sniffed the playoffs in nearly a decade. They currently hold the league's longest playoff drought.
The Raptors, too, have seemingly hit bottom, with five consecutive losing seasons.
So why the downward trend?
It may just be they can't see red in all that green.
Best Move: Drafting Vince Carter.
Worst Move: Not signing Tracy McGrady long-term.
No. 3: Donald Sterling
Clippers fans might want Donald Sterling even higher.
One of sports' most experienced owners, Donald Sterling has overseen 29 years of mediocrity, sharing the same arena with the NBA's most lauded franchise for many of them.
The Los Angeles lawyer moved a struggling San Diego Clippers to his hometown in 1984, but in that time the Clips haven't collected a single MVP and have only two playoff series wins.
Sterling has had his chances. The Clippers have had an almost comical 23 top-10 draft picks under his watch, three of which were 1st overall selections.
The most obvious draft blunder was that of Michael Olowokandi, widely considered one of the worst in history.
But even when Sterling and Co. seem to get it right, they get it just as wrong.
Take Blake Griffin, also selected first overall. To make room for the high flyer, the Clippers traded Zach Randolph to the Grizzlies for Quentin Richardson.
A Chris Paul-Griffin-Randolph trio, now that would make some noise.
All that to say Sterling's Clippers are taking it to the Western Conference in 2013, and have a legitimate shot at a title.
It would be the first in the franchise's history.
Best Move: Trading for Chris Paul.
Worst Move: Drafting Olowokandi.
No. 2: Mike Brown
Mike Brown has been the owner of the Cincinnati Bengals since 1991.
The team's record under his leadership?
That .371 winning percentage is thanks in part to the Bengals' knack for off-the-field incidents.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune's database, Cincinnati has had 39 player incidents involving arrests or citations since 2000, including two in the last month.
The locker room of Paul Brown stadium, named after the team's founder and father of Mike Brown, has included the likes of Chad Ochocinco, Adam "Pacman" Jones, Terrell Owens, Chris Henry, Tank Johnson and Corey Dillon in that time.
You could make an argument that the Bengals' personnel issues should fall on the team's GM, but Brown holds that job as well.
The good news for Bengals' fans is the team's current prospects.
A stellar 2011 draft landed Cincinnati A.J. Green and Andy Dalton, a long-term answer that has already resulted in two playoff appearances.
Best Move: 2011 draft.
Worst Move: Drafting Akili Smith ahead of Edgerrin James, Torry Holt and Champ Bailey.
No. 1: Jeffrey Loria
This doesn't take much thought.
Jeffrey Loria, the Miami Marlins owner that cut his team's payroll to mincemeat in one abrupt offseason swoop, may be the most hated man in sports.
Loria's Marlins boasted a new everything in 2012. A new stadium, a new coach, new star players, even a new name.
A fresh chapter for a franchise desperately trying to turn the page from the penny-pinching, high-turnover team of old.
Or so we thought. In less than a year, the Marlins have shed just under $70 million and are looking squarely at the National League's cellar.
To put it into even more perspective, Ricky Nolasco is now the team's highest paid player, commanding nearly half of Miami's 2013 budget.
And this at the hands of an owner that essentially duped Major League Baseball, as well as its own fans, to get a revenue-collecting stadium in the first place.
“I am aware of the anger, I am,” Bud Selig told the New York Times following Miami's most recent revealing trade. “The questions are fair about the Marlins fans. I want you to know that. It’s a subject that I’m extremely sensitive about."
The Marlins' future dealings will be very interesting going forward, but if Loria's track record is any indication, it may be more of the same in South Beach.
Best Move: Convincing the people of Miami to pay for a new stadium.
Worst Move: Trading a 24-year-old Miguel Cabrera.