Another Reinsdorf... Is Nepotism Going to Sink the Bulls?


I love the smell of nepotism in the morning. The smell, you know that freshly minted money smell... Smells like, victory.

The Chicago Bulls have announced that the son of chairman Jerry Reinsdorf is the team's president and chief operating officer. In the newly created position, Michael Reinsdorf will oversee the business operations and report to his father.  -AP
"Naming Michael President and COO reflects a natural progression of his growing role in the Bulls business organization, and publicly recognizes his contributions to the team," said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. "Naming Michael President and COO reflects a natural progression of his growing role in the Bulls business organization, and publicly recognizes his contributions to the team," said Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf. -K.C. Johnson

So it looks like the Reinsdorfs aren't going away any time soon. It seems to me that this news will conjure up a negative feeling in most Bulls fans. Kelly Dwyer doesn't seem too happy about the eventual transition to the younger Reinsdorf. Nepotism, of all the forms of favoritism, is generally viewed sinisterly from those on the outside. Whether it is true or not, nepotism automatically causes people to think that the person who is being put in the place of prominence because of family ties is unqualified. But we must remember that this idea of NBA franchise owners becoming family legacies is not limited to just the Bulls. The Lakers are going to be kept in the Buss family, the Heat in the Arison family, the Nuggets with the Kroenke family, and I guess the Knicks with the Dolan family could be thrown in there. The practice of keeping ownership of a franchise as a legacy has been common throughout the Chicago sports landscape, as the Blackhawks and Bears have been run by the Wirtz and Halas/McCaskey families for years. If you owned a franchise, wouldn't you want it kept in the family? I'm over judging the distastefulness of the inheritance of ownership. There's no reason to get worked up about it because it is just something that happens. The only thing we can do is judge the owner-to-be on his own merits & not the practice of ownership transition. So let's set our feelings of nepotism aside and take a look at the actual man who will be inheriting the Chicago Bulls franchise.

A Google search reveals that Michael Reinsdorf  is a 40-something year old University of Arizona graduate whose most notable accomplishment is being the son of Jerry Reinsdorf. But, as much as I hate to admit, that birthright comes with its perks. It means that he was provided the seed money (either through a bank lending based on his name or from the Senior Reinsdorf himself) to become the founding partner of the International Facilities Group. What does IFG do? According to their website: IFG functions as a consulting group to owners of arenas and other sports facilities, to help those owners develop facilities into more valuable assets of revenue stream. Seems like a practical knowledge base to have for running a team. The other perk of being a Reinsdorf is that Michael will have experience in a high level position with the organization by the time he takes over. Experience that could have served even self-made billionaires such as Cuban and Prokorov. My guess is that if they had some previous knowledge of operating an organization in the NBA, neither would have written the checks that they did for those first few contracts. (See the contracts of LaFrentz, Raef & Outlaw, Travis.) I'm a firm believer that experience is the best way to increase one's likelihood of success. Add being the chairman of several minor league baseball organizations, & Michael Reinsdorf's resume makes him, on the surface, qualified for eventual ownership of the Bulls. Could it be that Jerry's kid was being groomed for ownership all along? That's a rhetorical question. Of course he has! This is a man whose every business venture seems to have been calculated towards him taking on the role of the next owner of the Chicago Bulls. That can't be a terrible thing. Right? 

But this post would be no fun if I simply listed Michael Reinsdorf's experiential resume. Experience or no experience, if you are a mouth-breathing moron who has taken nothing from the--let's call it training--then no amount of background can help you. But as funny as it would be if Michael Reinsdorf was a mouth-breathing moron or as awesome as it would be if he were a genius, the truth is he is likely somewhere in between. To me, his actual performance as an owner should be measured differently than straight up intelligence. As a fan, all I want from my owner is the ability to perform two functions: hire an intelligent staff and be willing to spend more money to bring in players that will make the team better. Whether or not Michael Reinsdorf forms an intelligent staff structure is anyone's guess. I do know that he has been around sports organizations long enough to have the ability to recognize what works and what does not. At least, that's what his experience on paper, not his acumen, tells me.

But will Michael Reinsdorf, a man whose major business venture of his adult life was squeezing revenue out of arenas, be willing to fulfill the second line item on my fan wish list for an owner? Will he fork over extra money in the name of making the team as competitive as possible? My answer is an unequivocal yes. One thing I've learned about those who have grown up with and around money is that they have never had to worry about money. It's just not a thought that has been conditioned into them because they know that they've always had it. It doesn't make them bad people, it just makes them operate differently in terms of finances. They are more willing to spend for things, making money subsidiary to substance. Whether Michael Reinsdorf is a mouth-breathing moron or not can only be guessed. But the one thing that I am certain will happen when he takes over the reigns of the Chicago Bulls: He Will Spend The Money. This is a man that has been groomed for the position of Bulls ownership. If he wanted something else, he could have turned the Bulls down, and went off to do different business ventures. He wanted to one day be the owner of a successful championship basketball dynasty. Not the owner of a stream of cash-flow that happens to be a professional sports organization. But then again, maybe I'm reading too much into the fact that his favorite website is ESPN.COM.

Overall, my guess is that Michael Reinsdorf will represent an upgrade in Bulls ownership, and the formal announcement of his arrival as the heir to Jerry Pennybags is something we, as Bulls fans, should all embrace. Other than myself (because it would be awesome), this is the man I probably want owning the Bulls. He's been groomed for the position, and he seems to have a good-looking resume for a would-be future owner. What more can I ask for? Let's just hope he's not a mouth-breathing moron because the nostalgia of how funny that would be, would eventually turn into the realization that the Bulls are being run by the evolutionary James Dolan.

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