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You Have to Be Rich — Like, Stupidly Rich — to Own an NBA Team

Jimmy Goldstein buys hundreds of courtside seats per year, yet he can’t afford a team in this market

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Jimmy Goldstein attends hundreds of NBA games each year, usually sitting courtside. He’s a basketball superfan, but once upon a time, then–league commissioner David Stern wanted him to be more than that. According to Goldstein, Stern lobbied for him to become an owner of Goldstein’s hometown Milwaukee Bucks back in the early 2000s. But then Michael Jordan got involved, and Goldstein got squeezed out. And now, as he tells Chris Vernon on the latest Ringer NBA Show, teams have gotten so much more expensive that he couldn’t hope to afford one.

Listen to the full pod here. This interview has been edited and condensed.

How He Affords All Those Games

Chris Vernon: What was your job? What did you do? You said investments. So real estate? Were you a real estate guy?

Jimmy Goldstein: I’ve made property investments in California.

Vernon: Rental stuff? Like you bought the stuff years ago and rented it out over the years?

Goldstein: Most of it I bought years ago, yep.

Vernon: Yeah? All right, that’s a good enough answer. You bought a bunch of property, the property has made you money.

Goldstein: Correct.

Vernon: A lot of money. You’ve got a $4,000 hat and a $10,000 jacket.

Goldstein: I’m not a billionaire.

Vernon: You’re not?

Goldstein: There’s some billionaires running around [in the NBA]. I am not even close to being a billionaire.

Once Upon a Time, He Could Have Afforded the Bucks

Goldstein: David Stern used to get on me for spending so much money instead of being an owner of a team. And in fact, he tried to get me to buy the Milwaukee Bucks when they were first offered for sale. And I was interested in that.

Vernon: It would have been a homecoming.

Goldstein: But then Michael Jordan got in the picture, and so obviously Michael Jordan was more attractive as an owner of a team than I was. And then after the negotiations with Michael Jordan didn’t work out, the owner of the Bucks pulled the team off the market. So nothing ever happened on that.

Now Teams Are Just too Expensive

Goldstein: And now the teams are so ridiculously expensive. I couldn’t even consider being an owner of team, and my situation with the NBA is so great. I have a better situation in some ways than the owners of the teams do in terms of enjoyment, because I have an inside position with many of the teams. I’m not sure if I were an owner of one team I could do what I’m doing today.