When I was a kid, I idolized Magic Johnson. Being from Los Angeles, I loved watching the Magic Man take the NBA by storm in the early 1980s. Magic was a 6-foot-9 magician who was as comfortable handling a basketball as he was shooting it. I had a No. 32 Los Angeles Lakers jersey in honor of my basketball hero.
That’s why the next line is tough for me to write: I hope Magic doesn’t become one of the next owners of my favorite baseball team — the Los Angeles Dodgers.
With news last week that the bidding to become the new owner(s) of the Dodgers is down to three groups, I almost became giddy when I heard Magic was one of the finalists. Supposedly, the three finalists are: 1. Steven Cohen and Patrick Soon-Shiong; 2. Magic, Stan Kasten and supposedly Peter Gruber; and 3. Stan Kroenke.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think any of these potential owners will be light years ahead of Frank McCourt. However, that being said, I think I’m going to have to pull against Magic and Stan.
Because money talks in the high-stakes world of professional sports ownership. Money may not be everything in love, but it sure goes a long way in Major League Baseball when you’re trying to pay guys such as Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Andre Ethier and 37 others on your 40-man roster.
Magic’s net worth is estimated at $770 million. That’s not too shabby. However, that number pales in comparison to the other potential owners.
Cohen and Shiong are worth a combined $15.5 billion! That makes the $160 million contract Kemp signed with the Dodgers this offseason seem like chump change! Forbes says Cohen, 55, is the 35th-richest man in America with a net worth of $8.3 billion.
Cohen’s partner, the 60-year-old Shiong, is labeled as the richest man in Los Angeles with his $7.2 billion. Even more impressive with this pairing is they are both listed as “self-made” billionaires. They weren’t born into money and didn’t put a ring on its finger.
Magic’s ownership partner is Kasten, a former Atlanta Hawks, Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals management member. A quick Google search for Kasten’s net worth didn’t bring up anything except a listing of all of his past jobs and other personal information, such as his degree from Columbia Law School.
It’s safe to say Kasten is a millionaire, but he’s not even close to Magic’s wallet size, let alone the other members of the final threesome of potential owners. That’s one of the reasons Magic and Kasten had to enlist the assistance of Gruber, one of the minority owners of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors.
The third member of the ownership trifecta is Missouri real estate tycoon Stan Kroenke. Kroenke, 63, is worth a “paltry” $3.2 billion. One of the aces up Kroenke’s sleeve, though, is he is married to the daughter of Walmart co-founder Bud Walton.
Kroenke already has proved he knows how to purchase and run professional sports franchises. He currently owns the NFL’s St. Louis Rams, the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and MLS’ Colorado Rapids. (I was going to ask if anyone except me knows or cares there is Major League Soccer, but I’m not going to go there.)
Besides the financial capital, the rich Walton connection and his sports team ownership resume, Kroenke also is publicly known as “Silent Stan” for his penchant of remaining behind the scenes with his sports franchises.
Why is that important? The last thing the Dodgers need is another owner like Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys whose ego is bigger than that new $26 hotdog that the Texas Rangers will be selling this season. On Kroenke’s online bio, it says he “rarely interferes with the day-to-day operations of his teams.”
So, all this being said, I won’t be disappointed with any of the threesome of new Dodgers owner finalists. However, I am going to have to put my “homerism” aside on this one and put Magic Johnson third on this list.
The Dodgers were ranked last week in a Forbes report as the second-most valuable MLB franchise behind the New York Yankees. Forbes said the Yankees are worth $1.85 billion, followed closely by the Dodgers at $1.4 billion.
It’s time we had new owners who can also walk that billionaire walk, not just talk the talk.