76ers Owner Joshua Harris Should Not Be Trusted


Ownership in professional sports is an interesting process if you can afford it. There are no real qualifiers in becoming one, besides maybe not being a racist. One doesn’t have to be a basketball mind, or have grown up around the game (though those things don’t hurt). The amount of direct involvement from vary from person to person, from minimum to complete overseeing.

Some, like Eagles CEO Jeffrey Lurie, are active, but allow the people that they put in charge of the every day activities do their job. He’ll check in, but doesn’t back seat GM.

Others are like the Buss family in Los Angeles, where their involvement is throughout (the Lakers are their main source of income) and hire minds to work alongside them.

Then you have the more hands-on types. I put those into two categories: Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones.

North Texas has two extreme owners in Cuban and Jones. But their approaches as being two of the most hands-on owners in North American sports are not that similar.

On the one hand you have a man like Cuban. He gives his team everything. Best locker rooms, their team plane is incredible, the facilities for practice and around the arena are second to none. He sets his team up with the best chance to win. He is active with the players and it gives Dallas a family feel, even with a guy like Cuban who is known to demand perfection.

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Then you have Mr. Jones. He is the poster child for “hands-on ownership.” He is not only the owner, but the General Manager of the Cowboys. Pretty much every major decision on or off the field have been overseen by him at some point.

He’s built them the most impressive stadium honestly on the continent and all the perks that come with that. But many say he is too involved, getting in the way of himself and the team at times. Maybe the man has assumed too much control?

Now, I come to 76ers majority owner, Joshua Harris. Or should I say New Jersey Devils majority owner, Joshua Harris. Better yet, the world may know him better as the man attempting to purchase Crystal Palace F.C. in the Barclays Primer League.

Josh Harris watching Brett Brown coach the 76ers last season.

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Since purchasing the 76ers from Ed Snider, a man who seemed like he could never truly be bothered by the team, Joshua Harris and team have gone on to buy another major franchise and make bids for what some would consider an even bigger investment in British soccer.

Scott O’Neil is both the CEO for the 76ers and the Devils. Something that this Flyers fan has a hard time understanding (I understand the business side, but did they think we wouldn’t notice, or care?).

I don’t trust Mr. Harris has the best interests of my ball club when he is running several other entities. He is on the opposite end of the spectrum from Jerry Jones. Which is a good and bad thing. Mainly bad.

Harris seems like a man who like the idea of owning things. Like an investment banker who also owns a few restaurants. It’s obvious the ball club isn’t his life, at least not this one. He doesn’t have to be 100 percent 76ers all the time like the Buss family is with the Lakers. We have seen total control owners win and lose all the time. It isn’t needed and not always encouraged, but for me it is preferred.

Remember, an Ed Snider ran 76ers team made it to the Finals in 2001, but not until they had a man who would absolutely throw himself into making the team a true winner. That man was Pat Croce. I can safely say after a year and half, Scott O’Neil is no Croce. Adam Aaron flirted with the idea of being that kind of team president , but it was never going to happen for him either.

To be honest, I really haven’t been a fan of this ownership to begin with. A group of New York based guys buying a Philadelphia franchise on the dirt cheap. Just sounds like a deleted scene from Wolf on Wallstreet to me.

If you watched that video, he spoke of the team as an asset and an investment. Getting into the NBA was “something he always wanted to do” and then went into discussing the economics of why it was a good idea. There was zero passion (which could be just him to be honest), no excitement. He just didn’t look like the man who just bought “the third most winningest franchise in NBA history.” That man should be grinning, should crack a joke. He looks like he is getting an awkward public access interview by a high school student.

Then I see this…

Look I know the context is different, it was more of a pep rally than a formal interview, but I want that guy. That guy, I believe in. I want the crazy owner. Not the one who will micro manage every aspect of the franchise, but a person who will live and die as we do as fans and will do everything in their feasible power (which tends to be a lot as a owner) to make it right after every loss.

Going back to the Josh Harris piece, it took him until the middle of the whole interview to even admit he had any ties to Philadelphia at all. Even then it was almost brushed over. Small details, but they add up.

Finally, his other acquisitions. His group purchased the New Jersey Devils just two after they bought the Sixers. Rumors began to swirl that the 76ers may move to New Jersey, now that Harris owned not only the Devils, but the building they play in, the Prudential Center.

They were really dumb rumors, but him being a New York based guy, buying a basically New York based team and building, didn’t really help people’s worries.

But wait… there is more.

The Guardian

So, in the course of five years Mr Harris will have purchased three professional sports teams in two different countries. I’m not knocking him for that, it must be a nice life. But I just can’t feel that the 76ers are a top priority to this man, and this franchise and fan base deserve someone who is.

Josh Harris has put men in place people to try to help him accomplish the overall goal of making this team a contender a few years from now. He put a man in place to say to us as fans, “we have a plan, and be patient.” Then he went off to conduct other deals, coming back periodically to check on his product. Just like an owner hoping between his restaurants.

Harris isn’t a bad guy. He has every right to treat this team the way he wants, he owns it. But Philadelphia is different than a Miami or an Atlanta. We are a proud sports city, with an even prouder basketball heritage. Our team hasn’t won since 1983. Despite what outsiders may say, this city is hungry for a championship, more so than any other sport in this city (yes even more so than football). We need people who share that vision and demand for greatness. Does Joshua Harris make anyone feel he has that level of ruthless commitment?

The story of Harris and this ownership is far from over, and this man could even surprise me. But as of right now, its hard for me to believe he cares enough to do anything minus what he has already done to make sure that being the laughing stock of the NBA isn’t in vain.

For some reason, however… I just can’t trust Joshua Harris.