Stardom doesn't equal instant success

March 29, 2012

Dodgers fans believe in Magic. But they should remember that Earvin Johnson isn’t the first former pro athlete to dip his foot into the ownership waters. Here are five who moved upstairs with varying degrees of success:

Michael Jordan — His Airness became a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006 and eventually acquired a controlling share in 2010. After the team’s first playoff appearance in 2010, Charlotte had a 34-48 record last next season and currently owns the worst record in the NBA. In other words, it’s rebuilding time. Again.

Jerry Richardson — The former Colts receiver went from catching passes from Johnny Unitas to owning the Carolina Panthers, when the franchise joined the NFL in the 1995. In 17 seasons, the Panthers have reached the playoffs four times with an appearance in Super Bowl XXXVIII. The future looks brighter with Cam Newton taking snaps.

Nolan Ryan — With the Texas Rangers floundering due to overspending — remember Alex Rodriguez’s $252 million contract? — lawyer Chuck Greenberg and Ryan purchased his former team in bankruptcy court in 2010. With consecutive World Series appearances, it’s obvious The Ryan Express has the franchise on the right track.


Mario Lemieux — In 1999, the Penguins were in bankruptcy with the threat of relocation. The legendary center gathered a group of investors and kept the Pens in Pittsburgh. All they did was win a Stanley Cup in 2009 and move into a new arena the following season.

Wayne Gretzky — The Great One’s time as a 10 percent owner of the Phoenix Coyotes didn’t exactly mirror his on-ice success. He became the team’s head coach in 2005 and missed the playoffs in each of his four seasons behind the bench. The Coyotes filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and hear relocation whispers annually.