Top 10 Winningest Owners
The death of Dr. Jerry Buss on Feb. 18 renewed the debate on who's the most successful sports franchise owner of all time. Buss's three-decade stewardship not only made the Lakers a spectacular success as a business entity - now worth over $1 billion according to Forbes - he also transformed the former perpetual bridesmaids into the winningest franchise in professional basketball.
But is Buss truly the "winningest" owner of all time? We at RealClearSports have done our research, and our list is completely based on facts, with our opinions serving only to break ties. But before we unveil our list, we need to make clear our criteria:
1. These are principal and majority owners, having full and complete control of the franchises. This distinction eliminates people such as Conn Smythe of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Connie Mack of the Philadelphia A's.
2. These are individual owners, and at most one of a two-person co-ownership. We do not include families on the list, so the Molsons (Canadiens), Maras (New York Giants), Rooneys (Steelers) and O'Malleys (Dodgers) could qualify only as individuals, not as family units. This also rules out the Green Bay Packers Inc.
3. We include owners only in the four major North American professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL), so Malcolm Glazer's EPL and Champions League titles with Manchester United don't count.
Now that we have the ground rules, these gentlemen are on our honorable-mention list with four titles apiece: Jack Kent Cooke (1 Lakers, 3 Redskins), Mike Ilitch (Red Wings), John Pickett (Islanders), Peter Holt (Spurs), Walter O'Malley (Dodgers) and Art Rooney (Steelers). Those with five or more are on our Top 10 Winningest Owners in Sports.