The Sports Business Journal has released its 2010 top 50 most influential list and here's a look at the NBA people who made the list. Posted by Ben Golliver.
Every year, the Sports Business Journal ranks the top 50 most influential people in sports business, a somewhat subjective but fun to debate list of the powerbrokers that govern the games we enjoy watching, listening to and talking about. The list is usually a who's who of commissioners and television network executives, but team owners, agents and apparel company executives can also find their way onto the list.
The NBA is well represented on the 2010 list, with commissioner David Stern leading the way, as expected. "As the dean of professional sports commissioners, David Stern continues to pull all the right strings as the NBA enjoys a renaissance not seen since the Jordan era," Sports Business Journal writes. "This year, though, puts Stern under the spotlight as he pushes for huge changes in a new labor deal with the players that could lead to a lockout. But few, if any, can handle the glare as well as Stern."
The three central figures that have controlled the public discussion of NBA labor relations for the last year -- Stern, deputy commissioner Adam Silver and executive director of the NBA Players Association Billy Hunter -- all make the list. Stern checks in at No. 3, the second highest ranking for a league commissioner, trailing only the National Football League's Roger Goodell, who sits in the list's overall top spot. Silver ranks No. 27 on the list, with Hunter not far behind at No. 30.
The only NBA owner to show up is something of a surprise. New Washington Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, who also owns the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals, is listed at No. 37. Sports Business Journal writes that Leonsis was included because he "became one of an exclusive group that owns two major professional sports teams and an arena in a top-10 market." Other high-profile NBA owners -- including billionaires Mark Cuban, Paul Allen, James Dolan and Mikhail Prokhorov -- were not included.
The NBA's television partners are also well represented. ESPN/ABC President George Bodenheimer placed at No. 2 and Turner's President of Sales and Sports David Levy checked in at No. 13.
The two apparel companies most closely associated with the NBA, Nike, who supplies a majority of the players with sneakers, and official partner adidas, both placed executives on the list. Charlie Denson, President of Nike Brand, and Mark Parker, CEO of Nike Inc. shared spot No. 14. Herbert Hainer, Chairman & CEO of adidas, ranked No. 23.
President & CEO of AEG Tim Leiwieke, a powerbroker across multiple sports and an important voice in bringing the 2011 NBA All Star Game to Los Angeles, ranks No. 12.
Multiple agents with ties to the NBA and other sports also make the list, including Casey Wasserman, Chairman & CEO of Wasserman Media Group, at No. 24, and the Co-Heads of CAA Howard Nuchow and Michael Levine, who rank No. 36. Given CAA's influence over player movement and executive placement in the NBA over the last 12 months, Nuchow and Levine may have the best case for being underrated.