The original Denver Nuggets owner was businessman James B. Trindle, who along with his partners wanted to start up an ABA franchise in Kansas City.
However, after finding it difficult to secure a schedule in Kansas City, Trindle and his associates went to ABA commissioner George Mikan, who recommended Denver as a suitable alternative.
A few financial missteps later, the team was sold to trucking executive Bill Ringsby, who named the team the Ringsby Rockets. The then-Rockets passed through several more hands and entered the NBA before finally being purchased in July 2001 by the current Denver Nuggets owner, entrepreneur Stan Kroenke.
Kroenke is listed by Forbes as one of the richest people in the world. He owns several other sports franchises as well as being the Denver Nuggets’ owner: the Colorado Rapids of the MLS, the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL, a large portion of the English football club Arsenal, and 40% of the St. Louis Rams all belong to him.
Most of his wealth comes from real estate; his development firm, the Kroenke Group, constructs apartment buildings and shopping centers. He married Anne Walton, one of the Wal-Mart heirs, and their combined wealth is staggering.
The New York Times recently called Kroenke “a quiet sports emperor,” citing his passion for basketball in particular and speaking of his recent steps towards taking complete control over the Arsenal franchise.
The story of his acquisition of the Nuggets is about as interesting a story as one can get from Kroenke, who is notorious for personally staying out of the press. After Comsat Video Enterprises sold Ascent Entertainment — which included the Nuggets, the Pepsi Center, the Avalanche, and the video media — to AT&T’s Liberty Group, bidding started from all sides for the package deal.
Wealthy Denver resident Donald Strum put out an offer of $461 million for the sports assets, but would not agree to the teams’ remaining in Denver for 25 more years.
Four other bidders or groups of bidders, including Kroenke’s brother-in-law, put out bids for the team, but in the end, Kroenke stepped forward with an offer that the Liberty Group couldn’t refuse: no financing, a serious amount of cash to back up his offer (thanks to his own wealth and his wife’s), and a promise not to relocate the teams for a quarter of a century.
After becoming the Denver Nuggets’ owner, Kroenke regrouped them under Kroenke Sports Enterprises and set to work building a competitive team.
A couple of bad seasons precluded the 2003 NBA Draft, when they chose star forward Carmelo Anthony with the third overall pick. George Karl was installed as the permanent head coach, and is now a familiar face of the franchise; since his reign began, the Nuggets have won the Northwest division title, gone to the playoffs six seasons in a row (including a trip to the conference finals in 2009), and garnered three consecutive 50-win seasons.
Kroenke’s passion for the game of basketball makes him an ideal owner and leader, since he understands the game and knows how to put together a winning squad.
Some fans and pundits are frustrated with Kroenke’s fingers being in every franchise on more than one continent. His current path towards obtaining the Arsenal — which involved him purchasing 29.9% of the shares of the team; when he reaches 30%, he will, under British law, be required to make a bid for the rest of the shares — has frustrated fans of soccer around the world.
Because Kroenke tends to stay behind the scenes and is not an enthusiastic on-screen owner like Mark Cuban, many have attributed his silence as cold, calculating, and rude. Yet Kroenke continues to build winning franchises and manages not to involve himself in scandals.