Comparing Every NBA Owner to a Cartoon Villain

Jesse DorseyFeatured ColumnistFebruary 6, 2013

Comparing Every NBA Owner to a Cartoon Villain

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    The NBA is full of owners who enjoy sticking their noses into their team's basketball business as often as they like. It leads to a lot of criticism for their actions—seemingly more so than owners in most other sports leagues.

    For every James Dolan, Jerry Buss and Maloof family, it seems like there are a dozen basketball owners who are along for the ride, watching from the owners' box and getting into the media every once in a while with a stray comment.

    Basketball owners seem to live in the media more often than not, and when they're flying high, it seems as if they can do no wrong. However, when they're the owner of a team that's flopping around the league like mad, well, you get the James Dolan of a few years ago.

    It's always fun to villainize these owners, and their actions can be so out of the ordinary that they can seem like cartoon characters at times.

    So that's just what I've gone out and done: found each owner a cartoon villain that best represents their, um, attributes.

Atlanta Hawks, Michael Gearon Jr.: Foghorn Leghorn, Looney Toons

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    Foghorn Leghorn was always a chicken who got his jollies by poking at the biggest dog he could find, leading to a series of pokes back and forth. This usually led to Leghorn getting torn apart or having his feathers ripped out.

    That's just what happened when Atlanta Hawks owner Michael Gearon Jr. called Kevin Garnett the dirtiest player in the league after Game 5 in the first round of last year's playoffs.

    Garnett then went out and scored 28 points and had 14 rebounds in Game 6, closing out the win for the Celtics.

Boston Celtics, Wyc Grousbeck & Co.: Ganggreen Gang, The Powerpuff Girls

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    The Boston Celtics ownership group isn't the biggest player in the world of NBA owners, but it gets its head out there every once in a while.

    Usually the owners keep their heads down and let the front office do most of the work, laying low and staying rather well-liked by the people in Boston.

    They tend to fight silly little battles, stay out of the headlines and just look goofy in general, just like the Ganggreen Gang from, of course, the classic Powerpuff Girls.

Brooklyn Nets, Mikhail Prokhorov: Skeletor, He-Man and Masters of the Universe

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    Skeletor was the antagonist of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, constantly battling with He-Man, the least manly looking—yet one of the most ripped—heroes in the history of cartoons.

    Like He-Man, Skeletor was ripped—about as ripped as a skeleton could be. It seems as if every single character in the cartoon was constantly lifting and working out. I'm not sure where they ever found time to fight each other.

    MIkhail Prokhorov, hell-bent to become master of the universe, seems to be just as jacked as Skeletor, at least as far as NBA owners go.

Charlotte Bobcats, Michael Jordan: Cotton Hill, King of the Hill

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    Cotton Hill is a former war hero, riding high on the fact that he killed "fiddy" men back in World War II. He's constantly critical of his son and his son's wife, and is just an all-around jackass to everyone in King of the Hill.

    Michael Jordan is a former NBA hero, riding high on the fact that he won six NBA Championships back in the '90s. As an owner, he has berated his players and made terrible moves, doing everything he can to kill his reputation as a smart ball player along the way.

    He's too controlling, is constantly putting his nose in places where it shouldn't be and has absolutely no redeeming qualities.

    Oh, and I'm talking about both Jordan and Cotton in that regard.

Chicago Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf: Gargamel, The Smurfs

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    He's a paunchy little man who lives in the woods, constantly chasing around and trying to capture little blue people. Gargamel, that is.

    One of the main powers that Gargamel had in The Smurfs was the ability to create his own Smurfs.

    So besides the fact that they so resemble each other, Gargamel can create life, while Reinsdorf seems to think that he can do the same with great basketball teams. At least that's how it seemed after he broke up the Michael Jordan-era Chicago Bulls.

    It was mainly Jerry Krause who broke up the Bulls, but Reinsdorf allowed it all to happen.

Cleveland Cavaliers, Dan Gilbert: Cruella De Vil, 101 Dalmatians

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    All Cruella De Vil ever wanted was to take a few scores of Dalmatians, skin them and make herself a cool-looking coat with their tiny puppy furs.

    She was a rich, mean old woman who thought she could get whatever she wanted when she threw a bit of money around. If it didn't work out, she would throw a tantrum and try to steal whatever it was she wanted.

    Gilbert hasn't gone as far as to steal anything yet, but we've seen one of his tantrums first-hand.

Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban: Megatron, Transformers

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    Mark Cuban is, without a doubt, the most recognizable owner in the NBA. He's on television, he endorses products and he's near the court for every Dallas Mavericks home game.

    In a sense, he's the biggest NBA owner out there.

    The same goes with Megatron.

    If there was one cartoon villain that I know would absolutely kill me with one swing of the fist, or a misstep, it's Megatron. I'd have no shot, and neither would you.

Denver Nuggets, Stan Kroenke: Yosemite Sam, Looney Toons

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    This one is pretty self-explanatory. I don't know a whole lot about Stan Kroenke, but I do know that he likes to throw a mustache across his upper lip whenever he gets the chance. 

    From time to time, he'll grow it out to ridiculous lengths, long enough to curl up upon itself, or droop down sadly with each missed three-pointer the Nuggets put up.

    Give him a few holsters on his hips, and he's the real-life version of Yosemite Sam.

Detroit Pistons, Tom Gores: Garfield

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    Every once in a while, there comes an owner who does nothing but sit back and watch his team, no matter what's going on.

    And for those of you out there who don't think of Garfield as a villain, just look at the way he acted. 

    All Jon ever wanted was a cat who would eat cat food, let him pet him and do normal cat things. The only one of those that Garfield ever delivered on was having the all-around laziness of a cat. Otherwise, he was terrible.

    Same goes for Tom Gores. Things going well for the Pistons, things going poorly—it doesn't matter. He's just another owner watching as his team ebbs and flows.

Golden State Warriors, Joe Lacob: Professor Norton Nimnul, Rescue Rangers

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    Professor Norton Nimnul isn't exactly a household name, but odds are most of you have seen him in a cartoon a time or two.

    Nimnul is the mastermind from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers; you know, the guy who was always being undermined by a bunch of rodents.

    For all intents and purposes, he was a genius, but he just couldn't overcome a few mice with a mini-airplane.

    The same seems to go for Joe Lacob. He's a very smart fellow, and he knows how to get along as an NBA owner, but little things, like injuries, have constantly undermined his team.

Houston Rockets, Leslie Alexander: Wile E. Coyote, Looney Toons

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    Try as he might, Wile E. Coyote could never catch that damn Roadrunner.

    He threw anvils and pianos its way, shot rockets at it and tried to run it over with trains, but he never could catch the thing.

    That's the way Leslie Alexander has been with successful basketball teams.

    Sure, he's come close time and time again, but things like injuries and Tracy McGrady would always get in the way.

    This is one time that I'm hoping the Coyote has actually caught his Roadrunner with Leslie and James Harden.

Indiana Pacers, Herbert Simon: Edgar the Butler, The Aristocats

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    I won't lie to you, I have no idea who Herbert Simon is or what he's ever done in his tenure as owner of the Indiana Pacers. The only thing I really know about him is that he's a real estate mogul and a billionaire.

    Now, for those of you who don't know who Edgar the butler is, I was in the boat with you just a few hours ago.

    Without getting to far into it, he's the antagonist from The Aristocats. I didn't even know there was a bad guy in that movie, but apparently there was.

Los Angeles Clippers, Donald Sterling: Mumm-Ra, Thundercats

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    For the record, Thundercats was infinitely better than He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and Mumm-Ra is one of the biggest parts of that reasoning.

    Mumm-Ra was a demon sorcerer and a self-proclaimed ever-living source of evil.

    There you go. That's Donald Sterling in a nutshell right there.

    In fact, I'm not so sure Mumm-Ra wasn't directly based on Sterling, as he's been around the NBA long enough at this point.

    If there's a better way to describe Sterling than calling him an "ever-living source of evil," I haven't found it yet.

Los Angeles Lakers, Jim Buss: Sid Phillips, Toy Story

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    Jim Buss is the snotty son of Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss. Jerry has done a great job as the Lakers' owner, but Jim has been about as far away from his father as possible.

    Aside from hiring Mike Brown, then all but telling Phil Jackson that he could have his old job back before giving it to Mike D'Antoni, Buss has just been a terrible face for the Lakers in the past few years.

    Sid Phillips was the evil, brace-faced kid from Toy Story who spent his days blowing up defenseless toys—even going as far as to plan when he's going to blow up each toy.

    That's how I see Jim Buss at this point. He's a kid with a short fuse who is ready to snap and blow up his toys at any time.

Memphis Grizzlies, Robert Pera: Scrappy-Doo, Scooby-Doo

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    What's that you say? Scrappy-Doo isn't a villain? I beg to differ.

    If there is one character who absolutely ruined a classic cartoon more than Scrappy-Doo did when he was introduced to the Scooby-Doo series, then I haven't seen him yet.

    Robert Pera strikes me as a very well-meaning guy who just got in a bit over his head, as the Memphis Grizzlies are already starting to dump salary just a few months after he purchased the team.

    Perhaps he'll grow into a full-on Scooby at some point, but right now he's just running around yapping at people's heels.

Miami Heat, Micky Arison: Lex Luthor, Superman

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    Micky Arison is super rich, he's insanely successful and he's doing his best to kill truth, justice and the American way.

    Okay, so maybe he's not that terrible, but he is the owner of the most villainized team in the NBA—one that's trying to put a death-grip on the league with money and shady dealings.

    Lex Luthor may have been portrayed as a real American guy, just trying to figure out who Superman really was, but he was pure evil underneath.

Milwaukee Bucks, Herb Kohl: Scrooge McDuck, Duck Tales

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    Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl, the founder of the Kohl's department store, is a millionaire and was a United States senator from Wisconsin.

    That's about the long and short of who he is on the surface.

    Even after hearing about his philanthropic work, I just can't see past his old-man exterior and his deep pockets. That all makes me constantly picture him as the money-grubbing, coin-swimming Scrooge McDuck, constantly scowling at his Duck Tales grandsons.

Minnesota Timberwolves, Glen Taylor: Every Scooby-Doo Villain

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    Glen Taylor bought the Minnesota Timberwolves back in 1994, and every step of the way he seems to have made missteps.

    Taylor's Timberwolves have done their best to avert the salary cap by making a back-room deal with Joe Smith, leading to a huge fine and the loss of a handful of draft picks.

    They blew the best chance they had at a title as they struggled to find anyone to play with Kevin Garnett.

    And Taylor's let David Kahn run the team for the better part of a decade.

    All I'm waiting for now is for Taylor to be handcuffed with all of a ghost outfit save the mask, only to say, "And I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

New Orleans Hornets, Tom Benson: Mr. Burns, The Simpsons

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    Yeah, this is a Super Bowl blackout joke, what of it?

    Tom Benson is the owner of the New Orleans Saints, along with the New Orleans soon-to-be-Pelicans. With that Saints ownership, Benson had the ability to sell the naming rights to the Superdome, which he sold to Mercedes-Benz.

    Never mind the fact that Benson owns several Benz dealerships himself. He would never put together some shady deal just to make a few bucks.

    Okay, fast forward to Sunday's Super Bowl. The lights go out and what happens? An endless number of shots broadcast to over 100 million people of the giant Mercedes logo on the ceiling of the stadium.

    Mr. Burns blacked out the sun so people would constantly use his electricity. Benson blacked out the Super Bowl so people would buy more Mercedes.

New York Knicks, James Dolan: Bluto, Popeye the Sailor

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    James Dolan is the constantly bumbling, basketball-loving, childlike owner of the New York Knicks.

    He's constantly looking for a way to bring the Knicks back to their former glory, but he continues to bumble around and make huge mistakes. He even tried to bring back Isiah Thomas as a consultant after Thomas ran the team into the ground just a few years back.

    Bluto is the huge, bumbling nemesis to Popeye, and while he's obviously bigger and stronger than the sailor man, he constantly loses the fights over Olive Oyl. Why, you might ask? Well, he can't ever seem to figure out that if he just keeps spinach away from Popeye, he'll win with no problems.

Oklahoma City Thunder, Clay Bennett: Scar, The Lion King

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    Clay Bennett still seems to be one of the most evil owners in the NBA, if only for his shady dealings with David Stern to get the Oklahoma City Thunder to come about, via Seattle.

    Seattle was doing its best to keep its team in town, even lining up a new owner to take over the team and keep it in Seattle. Bennett stole the team away from Seattle, taking it away to Oklahoma City.

    It's a centuries-old tale, starting with Macbeth, coming all the way to The Lion King, as Scar stole the lion kingdom away from Mufasa and Simba.

    Only Simba may be on his way back, and he could find a way to avenge his father's death.

Orlando Magic, Rich DeVos: Dick Dastardly, Wacky Races

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    Dick Dastardly is the constantly scheming race car driver, originating in the Wacky Races cartoon back in the late '60s.

    He was always near the front of the race with a scheme to win, but constantly fell short as it would blow up in his face.

    To me, that sounds quite a bit like Rich DeVos and his Orlando Magic, failing time and time again so close to the top of the NBA.

    All that's missing is a wheezing Muttley snickering at his side when his plan fails.

Philadelphia 76ers, Joshua Harris: Squidward, Spongebob Squarepants

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    Joshua Harris led a team to buy the Philadelphia 76ers a few years back, and he hasn't really said much since then. He's just had problems come to him.

    In the past year, Harris has had to deal with constant scrutiny over Andrew Bynum's status, and Allen Iverson wanting to return.

    Taken at face value, Squidward isn't such a bad dude. Sure he's abrasive, but he's got two idiot neighbors bothering him every minute of every day. Anybody would turn into a sourpuss with that.

    I would suppose in this case Bynum is Patrick and Iverson is Spongebob, but they seem almost interchangeable.

Phoenix Suns, Robert Sarver: Bowser, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show

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    Robert Sarver spent the past few years with a princess locked away in his castle with everyone in the NBA clamoring to set him free.

    Sarver continually refused to trade Steve Nash, whether it be at the behest of his Stockholm Syndromed captive or plain old stubbornness.

    Only when Mario came knocking at the door and hit him on the head with four draft picks did Sarver finally let him go to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Portland Trail Blazers, Paul Allen: Sideshow Bob, The Simpsons

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    They say that the best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry, and that's the way it's been for Paul Allen for the past few seasons.

    He's helped throw together some terrific basketball teams, hitting on nearly every draft pick the team has made since Brandon Roy—only to watch it all go down the drain thanks to knee injury after knee injury.

    Paul Allen is the Sideshow Bob to those pesky injuries' Bart Simpson, constantly foiled by the tiny little slip-ups here and there.

Sacramento Kings, the Maloof Brothers: Prince John, Robin Hood

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    The original story of Robin Hood depicted Prince John as a cunning, evil man, which would only go halfway to complete the description of the Maloof brothers.

    However, when Disney got a hold of Robin Hood, Prince John became an eloquent tiger who was altogether greedy and evil, but also downright stupid.

    Now we're all the way to the Maloof brothers.

    We're talking about two brothers who have lost so much money that they were forced to sell their casino, and are now robbing the people of Sacramento of their basketball team.

San Antonio Spurs, Peter Holt: Dr. Claw, Inspector Gadget

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    There's a mastermind behind every great scheme, and in Inspector Gadget, that mastermind was always Doctor Claw.

    You never saw his face, only a single hand scratching his cat, with the occasional glimpse of his clawed hand. That's about the way it seems with the San Antonio Spurs.

    Peter Holt invested in the Spurs back in 1993, and save for a few times here and there, he's basically invisible.

    He sits behind his magnificent front office and coaching staff and lets them run wild, usually to terrific results.

Toronto Raptors, Richard Peddie: Cobra Commander, G.I. Joe

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    The Cobra Commander was the sworn enemy of G.I. Joe in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, and he was hell-bent on taking over the world with his global leagues of minions.

    Richard Peddie may not have leagues of minions, but he's got a handful of them, and they are certainly from all over the world.

    Now all he's got to work on is that "taking over the world" part.

    Of course, he has overseen the acquisition of Rudy Gay, who was one of the biggest threats to the Cobra Organization—er, Raptors.

Utah Jazz, Greg Miller: Snidely Whiplash, Dudley Do-Right

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    Utah Jazz owner Greg Miller is just that—the owner of the Utah Jazz. He doesn't seem to be a particularly detestable man, nor does he really give me reason to gush about his greatness.

    Basically, he's a stereotypical owner of an NBA team.

    That's why the persona for him to take on is that of Sidney Whiplash, sworn enemy of Canadian Mountie Dudley Do-Right.

    He's not really that evil of a villain, and Miller isn't really an owner that stands out above the rest.

Washington Wizards, Ted Leonsis: Boris Badenov, Rocky and Bullwinkle

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    Ted Leonsis, the bumbling owner of the Washington Wizards, is constantly trying to find a way to get to the top, but it's always through misguided attempts that end up going awry.

    Basically, he's the real-life version of Boris Badenov, the Pottsylvanian henchman of Fearless Leader from Rocky and Bullwinkle.

    Leonsis has done his best every step of the way to follow a plan, but the plan always seems to backfire—most recently with an injury to John Wall, but most famously with a tiny gun-and-gambling incident between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton.

David Stern: Fearless Leader, Rocky and Bullwinkle

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    He's the head of state, the leader of the revolution and the king of the castle.

    David Stern is the NBA's Fearless Leader. In Rocky and Bullwinkle, Fearless Leader was the employer of Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, all while keeping his job as the dictator of Pottsylvania.

    Both are strict, ruthless commanders who often put forth demanding rules and guidelines, easily burst apart by the incompetence of the league's owners.

    Stern will continue to hang around for a few years, at which point he's going to hand the league over to Adam Silver.

    We'll just have to wait to see what kind of villain he is.