You might have wondered why so much attention was lavished on one doughy white guy after the Mavericks won the NBA title last night.
That was Mark Cuban, technology billionaire, and possibly the best owner in professional sports. But he's not the only nerd with a big wallet and a sports fetish. Here's how Cuban and the other team-owning tech billionaires stack up:
1) Mark Cuban
Team: Dallas Mavericks 2010-2011 Result: 2011 NBA Champions
Cuban made the bulk of his fortune selling internet radio service broadcast.com to Yahoo for almost $US6 billion, and is still an active tech industry blogger. He spends a ton of money making sure that his teams are well-prepared, with high-tech scouting and advanced metrics, and he's turned the team into a perennial contender. He's basically everything you'd want your team's owner to be, down to his willingness to call the refs incompetent assbags.
2) Paul Allen
Team: Portland Trailblazers/Seattle Seahawks/Seattle Sounders FC 2010-2011 Result: Playoff Berth/First Round Playoff Win/Continued Existence
When Paul Allen isn't slamming former Microsoft partner Bill Gates in a new book, he busies himself by doing whatever the hell he wants, like owning a 414-foot yacht that houses two helicopters, two submarines and a pool. Turns out he's also a sports fan, so of course he bought most of the pro sports teams in the Northwest. His Trailblazers have had some of the worst injury luck on the planet, but they've been known for great management for years. The Seahawks have been a little down since appearing in the Super Bowl in 2006, but they did score a surprise playoff win over the incumbent-champion Saints this past season. We're told the Sounders don't suck too bad, either, but that's got to be grading on a heavy curve since they're in the MLS.
3) Silvio Berlusconi
Team: AC Milan 2010-2011 Result: Serie A Champions
Sure, Silvio Berlusconi is best known as the lady-loving Prime Minister of Italy. But he's also one of Italy's most prominent media moguls, with three prominent cable channels under his ownership. He's also why every time someone calls Mark Cuban "controversial," the international soccer community laughs its arse off. Berlusconi has faced allegations of tax evasion, fraud, bribery, mafia collusion and other similarly batshit crazy behaviour. AC Milan was nearly relegated during a match fixing scandal in Italian football a few years ago, but they escaped due to lack of evidence. On the football side, the club had a brilliant season this past year, winning the Serie A by a comfortable six points.
4) Nintendo of America
Team: Seattle Mariners 2010 Result: 61-101 Record
Did you know that Nintendo owns a professional sports team? It seems weird, right? Nintendo's then-president Hiroshi Yamauchi spearheaded the purchase back in 1992, and while Mario and friends have been chugging along nicely since the halcyon days of the Super Nintendo, the same can't really be said for the Mariners. Back in the early 90s, the Mariners were loaded with Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, a young Alex Rodriguez. These days? They have the once-great Ichiro Suzuki, the now-great King Felix and the great-for-beer-prices Chone Figgins. They won an abysmal 61 games last season for the second time in three years.
5) Rogers Communications
Team: Toronto Blue Jays 2010 Result: 85-77 Record
Rogers Communications is a cable, internet and phone service company in Canada. And if you're thinking that a telecommunications company wouldn't be your first choice to run a professional sports team, you're right! The Blue Jays aren't exactly terrible, but they're nowhere near good enough to compete in their preposterously talented division. It might be a little unfair to call Rogers Communications a bad ownership group, but they're clearly overmatched going up against AL East rivals like the Yankees and Red Sox (and even Rays).
993) James Dolan
Team: New York Knicks 2010-2011 Result: First Playoff berth since 2004
Jim Dolan is the stuff of night terrors for NBA fans. He took over the Cablevision empire in the late '90s, and ever since has turned Madison Square Garden into the one of the crueler jokes in professional sports. Under Dolan, the Knicks spent a decade with one of the highest paid, least talented teams in the league. They also put up with truck-sex scandals, head tattoos, and too-hilarious-to-not-be-a-joke blues bands. Over the past few years, they've finally gotten their act together and given fans a reason to hope. So naturally, Dolan got rid of Donnie Walsh, the GM who brought the Knicks back to respectability and brought in All-Stars Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony.