Sparks Watch Day 6: What makes a good owner?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

We still don't know who will be the new owner of the Los Angeles Sparks - but what traits do good sports owners possess?

There's not much news on the Sparks front from our lonely watchtower, but when we find it, you'll get it. The most recent news is a set of tweets from Lisa Leslie. The Twitter messages don't really tell us much, save that she reports that she was just as surprised as all of us with regard to the Sparks ownership walking away from the team.

Okay, the Day 5 post was a bit of a downer, but the possibility that the Sparks might fold had to be mentioned and honestly discussed. We at Swish Appeal hope that the Sparks are around. Granted, they might end up in a new city and with a new name - but that's preferable to folding.

We also have suspicions that the owners of the Golden State Warriors will be the new owners of the Los Angeles Sparks/Golden State Amazons. But will they be good owners? What makes a good owner?

Here are some characteristics you should expect of a good owner. A list of sources for the various points below will follow at the end.

  • Have money - That's not just the characteristic of a good owner, that's the characteristic of any sort of success for an owner. Hilton Koch, the last owner of the Houston Comets was not a good owner for this reason. There are lots of great people in women's basketball - fans, reporters, commentators, coaches - who would make wonderful owners, but they don't have the money.
  • A desire to win - You might not like Atlanta's Mary Brock and Kelly Loeffler firing Fred Williams - but you can't say that the firing wasn't motivated by a desire to win. Compare those firings to the ones of Julia Plank and Angela Taylor by Washington's Ted Leonsis and Monumental Sports. Whatever the reason there, winning had nothing to do with it.
  • A commitment to transparency - Owners should openly let the fans know what direction their teams are headed, in particular when they are rebuilding their foundations. Going back to Ted Leonsis, his Ten Point Plan may not be the rebuilding plan most WNBA teams follow to a T since many prefer to build around veterans rather than youth unless they're impact players. But they are still good starting points on building a winner, and if nothing else show a commitment to transparency. If you haven't read it before, you can do so in our "More Reads Here and on SB Nation" section.
  • Loyalty - as Jeff Marron says, "to the hometown, to the fans and to the players". The owner isn't looking for a city that can offer the best deal. (Luckily, we're free from this in the WNBA.) Why? Because a sports team is not a yacht or a McDonald's franchise. It's a sacred trust and it belongs to the community as much as it does to you. This is why Walter O'Malley, despite his admission to the Baseball Hall of Fame, will always live in infamy among some people.
  • Success - It's hard to call yourself a good owner if the results of your management don't result in wins on the court, and moreso if there are off the court blunders.
  • Humility - The owner doesn't act as if he's the smartest person in the room (even when he is). He or she is willing to hire smart people - and if those people are very smart, is willing to allow them to do their jobs without butting in. But if he is the smartest person in the room, he can do his job without letting his ego off the leash.
  • The "it" factor - These are kind of people that you'd run through hell in a gasoline suit for. The players love this kind of owner, because they know that he or she would do anything for them.
  • Understands not just the sport, but the market - It's not enough to know basketball, but to know how to sell basketball. In the WNBA, this is something that even the owners who can sell the NBA haven't figured out.
  • Personality doesn't seem to manner much. There are front men who are loud and successful (Mark Cuban of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks) and there are front men who are loud and unsuccessful (Dan Snyder of the NFL's Washington Redskins). There are owners who were pretty dim but knew how to hire the right people - if they didn't know the answers, they hired someone who did.

    Do the owners of the Golden State Warriors fit the criteria listed above? (It's hard to say. Maybe our good friend Nate Parham would know the answer to that.) Unfortunately, the current NBA and WNBA rules prohibit the Sparks from getting new owners like the best current owners of any sports franchise...

    ...namely, the 364,000 shareholders of the NFL's Green Bay Packers. Non-profit, and community owned. Maybe someday, as fans of our local WNBA teams, we'll be able to put our money where our mouths are. But until that day comes, we can only hope for owners with some of the traits above.

    Additional reading from outside SB Nation

    The best team owners in 25 years, by Jeff Marron
    Is Jeffrey Loria the worst owner in sports history? by Tim Dahlberg
    Why Mark Cuban is the greatest owner in all sports, by Bleacher Report
    Jerry Buss and the importance of a good owner, by Craid Elsten
    Makers and takers, by David Roth
    ____

    So what traits do you expect of a good sports owner? Who is the best owner in the WNBA? And who is the worst? Let us know in the comments thread!

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