Wall Street and Silicon Valley veterans are lining up to make big bets on the NBA

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The 2005 NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs crowd around their trophy
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REUTERS/Reuters Photographer

Veterans from the worlds of finance and technology are using their professional skills to take on a totally new kind of competitive arena: the National Basketball Association.

The season kicks off on the evening of Tuesday October 27, and the list of Wall Street and Silicon Valley billionaires chasing a return on investment on the hardwood is getting longer.

Apollo Global Management co-founder Tony Ressler earlier this year led a group of investors that includes NBA great Grant Hill to buy the Atlanta Hawks in a deal valued at more than $800 million.

Ressler is a seasoned Wall Street pro, and also put money into Major League Baseball’s Milwaukee Brewers 10 years ago.

Gone are the days where a local real estate magnate or entrepreneur winds up running the town’s team. Now, increasingly wealthy executives who made most of their money on either coast of the US are swooping in, and paying huge sums to take over pro franchises.

Before we kick off the NBA season, Business Insider breaks down the winners and losers in basketball who have all the skin in the game: the owners.


Steve Pagluica took his private equity chops to the NBA more than 10 years ago

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Stephen Pagliuca, managing director of Bain Capital
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REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Team: the Boston Celtics

Owner(s): Bain Capital’s Stephen Pagliuca bought the Celtics for $360 million in 2003 with a group of co-investors

Last year’s record: The Celts limped into the playoffs with a 40-42 regular season record. However, in 2008, under Pagliuca’s ownership, Boston won the NBA Championship.


Joe Lacob went from the venture capital world to hoisting an NBA championship trophy

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Lacob, right, celebrates the Golden State Warriors’ NBA championship in 2015.
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Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Team: the Golden State Warriors

Owner(s): Venture capitalist Joe Lacob and Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber bought the Warriors in 2010 for a then-record $450 million

Last year’s record: Golden State went 67-15, and then topped the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James to win the NBA Championship.


Tony Ressler, who has cofounded two private equity firms, also owns two pro sports teams

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Tony Ressler (right), co-founder of Ares Management, rings the NYSE Opening Bell
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REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Team: the Atlanta Hawks

Owner(s): Tony Ressler, who founded Apollo Global Management in 1990 and later founded Ares Management, led a group of investors who spent $850 million on the team in 2015. He also co-owns the Milwaukee Brewers.

Last year’s record: 60-22


Hedge fund titans piled into the Milwaukee Bucks trade

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Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry
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Photo courtesy of Tom Newton

Team: the Milwaukee Bucks

Owner(s): Avenue Capital Group co-founder & co-CEO Marc Lasry and Fortress Investment founder and co-chairman Wesley Edens bought the Bucks last year for $550 million.

Last year’s record: 41-41


Private equity pros looked for a return on their investment in the Philadelphia 76ers

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Sun Capital’s Marc Leder was joined by Apollo’s Josh Harris on their Philadelphia 76ers investment

Team: the Philadelphia 76ers

Owner(s): Marc Leder and Josh Harris were joined by a group of investors that included Will Smith and David Blitzer of Blackstone to buy the 76ers in 2011 for $280 million.

Last year’s record: 18-64


Dan Gilbert bought into the Cleveland Cavaliers before LeBron James became a NBA heavyweight

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Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans
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REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Team: the Cleveland Cavaliers

Owner(s): Dan Gilbert, the chairman and founder of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, bought the Cavs in 2005 for around $375 million and has seen the franchise go to two championship series.

Last year’s record: The Cavs went 53-29 in the 2014-15 season.


Tom Gores bought into the Detroit Pistons with hopes of turning the team around

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Tom Gores’ private equity firm helped him into his Pistons investment
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Tomgores.com

Team: the Detroit Pistons

Owner(s): Gores and his private equity firm acquired the Pistons in 2011; in 2015, he assumed independent control. The 2011 purchase price was $325 million.

Last year’s record: 32-50


Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks bet has been successful on a number of levels

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Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban
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Scott Halleran / Getty Images

Team: the Dallas Mavericks

Owner(s): Mark Cuban, who sold startup Broadcast.com for $5.7 billion to Yahoo!, would later pile $285 million into the Dallas Mavericks, buying the franchise away from Ross Perot Jr. in 2000. Eleven years later, the team won an NBA Championship.

Last year’s record: 50-32


Ex-Microsoft exec Steve Ballmer is bringing his fiery management style to the LA Clippers

Team: the Los Angeles Clippers

Owner(s): Colorful former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer decamped south on the West Coast and ponied up a whopping $2 billion to buy the Clips in 2014 after an ill-advised rant from the team’s former owner forced a sale. But, he’s expecting some big tax breaks.

Last year’s record: 56-26


Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft, runs the Portland Trail Blazers

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Allen is also an owner of the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks
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Steve Dykes / Getty Images

Team: the Portland Trail Blazers

Owner(s): Allen’s decision to invest early – with $70 million to buy the franchise in 1988 – proved wise. Today, the team is valued at more than 10-times his initial investment price.

Last year’s record: 51-31


Wait, we’re not done yet!

Check out the list of the 30 most incredible homes owned by finance pros!