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The Top 5 Worst Owners In Sports

Patrick Crawley, Miles Cooper, Chris Pisar, Sara Ramsey, Dan Watson |
December 8, 2010 | 5:57 p.m. PST

What if there was a coalition made up of the worst owners in American sports?

What if we merged them all together, Captain Planet style, and with their powers combined they destroyed the sports world, obliterating it with greed and incompetence?

Which owners are reviled enough to be considered for a coalition like this? Who makes cut?

Here's our list of the top 5 worst owners in sports:


5. The McCourts

Seven years ago, Frank and Jamie McCourt took the helm of one of most storied franchises in baseball. The team has been a mess ever since.

Instead of raising expectations and championship banners, the McCourts have managed only to raise ticket prices and doubts that the team will ever to return to the glory days of the O’Malley era.

Their bottom line-oriented philosophy of ownership has single handedly taken a large market team and turned it into the Florida Marlins West, only a lot less productive as far as wins and losses are concerned.

The Dodgers continue to be one of the most popular teams in MLB (both in attendance and merchandise) but by the looks of their payroll, and lack of superstars, you would never know it.

Now, the McCourts’ messy divorce has the fate of the Dodgers in the hands of a California Family Court judge.

The McCourts should do all of Dodger Nation a favor and sell the team to someone who cares more about championships, and less about the bottom line.

-- Chris Pisar

4. Glen Taylor

Glen Taylor is one of the 500 richest people in the world (437th actually; he's worth $2.2 billlion according to Forbes), but that doesn't mean he's a good owner.

In fact, he's terrible.

He's owned the Minnesota Timberwolves since 1994, in which time they've made it past the first round of the playoffs just once (2003-04). And that's with Kevin Garnett, a future Hall of Famer, in the mix.

Taylor is infamous for squandering Garnett's prime (during his 12 seasons in Minny, KG's best set of teammates was Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell), but he should be better known for picking awful front office personnel.

One of Taylor's first moves as owner was to promote Kevin McHale from broadcaster to vice president of basketball operations. McHale went from announcing Wolves games to running the team in less than two years.

He was awful -- worst moves included trading Ray Allen for Stephon Marbury, drafting Wally Szczerbiak over Richard Hamilton, signing Joe Smith illegally (and losing five first round draft picks as a penalty), and swapping Brandon Roy for Randy Foye in the 2006 draft -- but Taylor refused to part ways with him. He kept McHale around for 14 years.

When Taylor finally fired McHale, he replaced him with former sporswriter and NBDL owner David Kahn. 

That too has been a disaster.

So far, Kahn has distinguished himself by drafting three point guards in the first round of the 2009 draft and trading offensive centerpiece Al Jefferson for Kosta Koufos and two future first round draft picks.

He also signed Darko Milicic to a four-year, $20 million deal, which wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't likened Darko to perennial All-Star Chris Webber on a NBATV telecast.

Kahn has no idea what he's doing, but, hey, that's just the way Glen Taylor likes it.

The Wolves won't be relevant until he sells the team.

-- Patrick Crawley

3. Daniel Snyder

One recent Monday night summed up Daniel Snyder’s terrible tenure as owner of the Washington Redskins.

On Nov. 15, hours before his team faced the Philadelphia Eagles in a critical NFC East game, Snyder did it again. He signed an aging star to an exorbitant contract.

Consider his past follies: Bruce Smith (at age 37): five years, $23 million; Mark Brunell: seven years, $43 million; Jeff George: four years, $18.25 million; Deion Sanders: seven years, $56 million; and Albert Haynesworth: seven years, $100 million.

This time, it was Donovan McNabb: an extension for five years worth $78 million.

All those contracts, along with a laundry list of other infractions (including banning signs in FedEx Field to avoid negativity; raising ticket and parking prices; suing season ticket holders unable to pay during the recession; and firing coaches on a whim) have alienated a near-revolting fanbase and kept the Redskins near the bottom of the standings for Snyder’s 12 years as owner.

Fans could care less that their team is the second-most profitable in the NFL. The money’s bought two playoff wins.

On Nov. 15, it bought them McNabb (34 years old) for half a decade more. Inexplicably, the signing came two weeks after he was benched for poor play.

McNabb celebrated the cash by throwing three interceptions, while Michael Vick accounted for six total touchdowns in a historic offensive night.

The Redskins got smashed 59-28.

Dan Watson

2. Donald Sterling

In 1982, Donald Sterling bought the San Diego Clippers for a reported $20 million dollars.

At the time, the Clippers were coming off three consecutive losing seasons and attendance was plummeting.

Upset with the fan support in San Diego, Sterling moved the team to Los Angeles two years later, where it resides now.

Since moving to L.A., the Clippers have been bequeathed the name “the other Los Angeles team,” since they have always lived in the shadow of the Lakers.

Sterling has had 27 losing seasons to go along with zero championships, zero division titles and just four trips to the playoffs. The Clippers have never even made it past the conference semifinals.

While Sterling has been unsuccessful in turning the Clippers into contenders, he has been successful in creating a reputation as a racist, and a penny pincher -- the Cuttino Mobley deal in 2005 was the Clippers' first significant signing since Bill Walton in the late 70s). He's stubborn with the team’s money, which keeps the Clippers from ever being a contender.  

They lose, year after year, in large part because of him.

His place on our list is a no-brainer.

-- Miles Cooper


1. Al Davis


Three Super Bowl titles, one AFL championship and 21 postseason berths make for a pretty good resume. Al Davis must have broken a mirror the last time he checked his reflection though because it has been seven years of bad luck since the Raiders were blown out of the water in 2003 at Super Bowl XXXVII.

Davis, who has owned the team for 44 years, since its American Football League days, is known for being a very hands-on owner, taking an involved role it the clubs day-to-day operations, for better or worse.

Mostly worse though.

Davis is known for his manta: “Just win, baby.” But Oakland has had a 29-83 record in the seven seasons since their Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay and went over .500 for the first time since 2002 this season. The Raiders have also been through five coaches since 2001; including a one-year stint with current USC head coach Lane Kiffin.

In one of Davis’ worst decisions, he relented after days of negotiations and signed quarterback JaMarcus Russell to a $68 million dollar contract in 2007.

We all know how that turned out.

Davis has been quoted as saying he will continue with the Raiders until they either win two more Super Bowls or he dies.

I’m pretty sure one will never be possible without the other.

-- Sara Ramsey



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