Who Owns the NBA?

Jimmy Remland
By Jimmy Remland 8 Min Read
8 Min Read

The world of NBA team ownership is a fascinating landscape, where billionaires and sports legends alike shape the future of their franchises and the league itself. Behind every slam dunk and game-winning three-pointer, there’s an owner whose decisions and vision have helped create those unforgettable moments. But who really owns the NBA in 2023? Let’s delve into the organizational structure of the league, the power and influence of team owners, the process of becoming an owner, and the evolving relationship between owners and players, all while answering the question: who owns the NBA?

The Structure of the NBA

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is a complex entity, and its structure plays a pivotal role in ensuring the success of its sports teams. The NBA Board, composed of 30 team owners, sits at the heart of the NBA’s organizational structure, making pivotal decisions for the basketball league. These owners collectively hold the reins of power, shaping the rules and regulations that govern the league and its franchises.

Working alongside the Board of Governors is the NBA Commissioner, who oversees the league on behalf of the team owners. The current Commissioner, Adam Silver, has been instrumental in managing the league and ensuring its continued growth and development. Every team in the NBA, from the New York Knicks to the Golden State Warriors, is influenced by the choices made by the Commissioner and the Board of Governors.

Board of Governors

The NBA’s Board of Governors, comprised of team owners, wields significant authority to decide the league’s rules, regulations, and overall trajectory. This governing body represents the interests of franchise owners and ensures that their voices are heard in the decision-making process. The Board of Governors is composed of Commissioner Adam Silver and the 30 team owners and their respective representatives. The Board of Governors’ influence permeates the entire league, with each team owner contributing significantly to the shaping of the NBA’s landscape.

High-Profile Owners

In the world of NBA team ownership, there are a few giants who stand above the rest. High-profile owners such as Michael JordanMark Cuban, and Steve Ballmer have used their wealth and influence to shape their respective teams, often becoming household names in the process. Let’s take a closer look at some of these influential figures:

  1. Michael Jordan (Charlotte Hornets): The legendary basketball player turned owner, Michael Jordan, has brought his competitive spirit from the court to the boardroom. His ownership of the Charlotte Hornets has been marked by a commitment to player development and community engagement.
  1. Mark Cuban (Dallas Mavericks): Known for his outspoken personality, Mark Cuban has transformed the Dallas Mavericks into a tech-savvy franchise. His investments in analytics, fan experience, and player wellness have set a new standard for NBA ownership.
  1. Steve Ballmer (Los Angeles Clippers): The former Microsoft CEO’s passion for basketball led him to acquire the Los Angeles Clippers. Ballmer’s energy and dedication have revitalized the franchise, making it a force to be reckoned with in the league.

Becoming an Owner

Becoming an NBA team owner is no small feat. It requires substantial financial resources, dedication, and a love for the game. When a team goes up for sale, potential owners must undergo a rigorous vetting process. They need to demonstrate their ability to contribute positively to the league and uphold its values. Once approved, they join the exclusive club of NBA owners, where their decisions impact not only their team but the entire league.

Evolving Relationships

The relationship between players and owners has evolved over the years. Player empowerment has become a central theme, with athletes using their platforms to advocate for social causes and effect change. Owners, too, have recognized the importance of supporting players beyond the court. Collaborations on community initiatives, education, and social justice have strengthened these bonds.

Controversial Owners

Not all owners bask in the limelight; some find themselves embroiled in controversies. Let’s shine a spotlight on a few:

  1. Donald Sterling (Former Owner of the Los Angeles Clippers): Sterling’s racist remarks shocked the sports world. The NBA swiftly banned him for life and forced the sale of the Clippers. The incident highlighted the league’s commitment to inclusivity and zero tolerance for discrimination.
  2. James Dolan (New York Knicks): Dolan’s tenure has been marked by inconsistent team performance and strained relations with fans. His decisions have often faced scrutiny, leading to heated debates among Knicks faithful.

Ownership Changes

Ownership changes are pivotal moments in NBA history. Here are some notable transitions:

  1. Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City Thunder: In 2008, the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City, becoming the Thunder. The move sparked debates about loyalty, fan bases, and the power of owners to shift franchises.
  2. Brooklyn Nets: The Nets’ ownership saga is a rollercoaster. From Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov to the current owner, Joseph Tsai, the team has seen dramatic shifts. Tsai’s vision includes global expansion and community engagement.

Players as Stakeholders

The NBA’s landscape has evolved, with players becoming more than just athletes. They’re stakeholders who influence team decisions and league policies. Here’s how:

  1. LeBron James: King James isn’t just a player; he’s a force of nature. His influence extends beyond the court, from advocating for social justice to shaping team rosters. His move to the Miami Heat in 2010 sparked a new era of player empowerment.
  2. Chris Paul (President of the NBPA): Paul’s role as the President of the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) underscores players’ impact. He negotiates collective bargaining agreements, ensuring players’ rights and welfare.

The Future of Ownership

As the NBA continues to thrive, the future of ownership remains intriguing. Here are some trends to watch:

  1. Tech Titans: Silicon Valley moguls eye NBA ownership. Imagine an Amazon or Google-backed team! Tech expertise could revolutionize team operations and fan engagement.
  2. Globalization: International ownership is on the rise. Joseph Tsai (Nets) and Vivek Ranadivé (Sacramento Kings) exemplify this trend. Expect more global investors to join the NBA family.
  3. Social Impact: Owners increasingly focus on community initiatives. From education programs to environmental sustainability, they’re using their platforms for positive change.


So, who owns the NBA? It’s not a single entity but a collective of visionaries, influencers, and game-changers. As the league evolves, these owners will continue shaping its destiny. Whether they’re controversial figures or philanthropic leaders, their impact reverberates through every dribble, dunk, and championship celebration.

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