Who is the best owner in pro sports?

Cuban plays hard

Ben Bolch

Los Angeles Times

The NBA still has the best owner in pro sports even after the passing of Jerry Buss. His name is Mark Cuban. Not only do his teams win (with the notable exception of this season), but he pampers his players, speaks his mind and always is looking for ways to improve and innovate.

Besides, what other owner has appeared on "Entourage" and "The Colbert Report" and starred in his own reality show, "Shark Tank"? Cuban is a man of the people despite his extreme wealth. He interacts with fans and attends just about every road game.

Yes, he can be a little too mouthy at times, but I'll take that approach over the largely anonymous owners who remain cloaked in their luxury suites.

bbolch@tribune.com

Kraft built Pats' brand

Jeff Otterbein

Hartford Courant

The best owner in professional sports might just be Robert Kraft of the Patriots.

He bought the team in 1994, possibly saving it from relocating to St. Louis. He built a winner (three Super Bowl titles). He built a new stadium in Foxboro, Mass. His philanthropic interests are extensive. He helped end the 2011 NFL lockout.

Year in and year out, the Patriots are a playoff team. Fans get an experience when they go Foxboro. Patriot Place is a mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex adjacent to the stadium. The Hall at Patriot Place is a museum that honors the team and the sport.

The Patriots, so inept for so long, are now an NFL brand, and Kraft has been the owner behind that.

jotterbein@tribune.com

Rooneys succeed

Jeff Schuler

Morning Call

The Rooney family has owned the Steelers since the franchise joined the NFL in 1933.

Founder Art Rooney went 40 years without reaching the playoffs, but beginning with one of the most controversial plays in football history (this from a bitter, bitter Raiders fan), since 1973 the Steelers have compiled one of the most successful postseason resumes in pro sports, producing six Super Bowl championships.

Even as control of the franchise has passed from Art to his son Dan to his grandson Art II, it's tough to find anyone in Pittsburgh who complains about the management of the franchise on or off the field.

jschuler@tribune.com

Kraft, Ilitch shine

Philip Hersh

Chicago Tribune

It would be pretty hard not to pick the Patriots' Robert Kraft, given the financial skin he put in the game ($350 million) for the team's stadium and its relentless success since he became owner in 1994.

Mike Ilitch, owner of the Tigers and Red Wings, also belongs high on the list. The Red Wings have gone from irrelevant to 21 straight playoff appearances and four Stanley Cup winners during his three-decade ownership.

The Tigers struggled in his first 13 years as owner, but he stuck with them, ponied up more than half the funds for Comerica Park and then spent lavishly on players who have made the World Series twice and ALCS another time since 2006.

phersh@tribune.com

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