The ten-part documentary series The last dance was presented as a story from the Chicago Bulls’ 1997-98 season. It was the last year of the team’s dynasty, culminating in their sixth championship in eight years. However, the series was not limited to this season, often jumping to help tell the story.
One of these stories explored Michael Jordanbaseball career. After retiring for the first time in 1993, Jordan joined the Birmingham White, the Chicago White Sox’s Double-A affiliate. The docuseries touch on the fact that the owner of the Bulls, Jerry Reinsdorf, was also the owner of the White Sox, which places Jordan in an ideal position to change sport. How did Reinsdorf make enough money to own the two teams?
Jerry Reinsdorf was born in 1936. He grew up in Brooklyn and graduated from George Washington University before moving to Chicago in 1957. He became a CPA and lawyer, and was also a licensed mortgage underwriter and chartered appraiser. He attended Northwestern University School of Law, obtaining his first job in 1960. Coincidentally, this work was a tax crime case of Bill Veeck, then owner of the White Sox.
Reinsdorf entered private practice in 1964. He developed a specialty in real estate partnership tax shelters, which are methods of reducing taxable income, both at the state and federal levels. In 1973 Reinsdorf created Balcor, raising $ 650 million to invest in buildings under construction.
He eventually sold his stake in the company to Shearson Lehman Brothers, the investment bank and brokerage arm of American Express in 1982 for $ 102 million. He remained president for several years, although his priorities had changed.
The previous year, Reinsdorf had purchased the Chicago White Sox. He had always been a baseball fan – he attended Jackie Robinson’s debut in person – and it only seemed like a matter of time before he tried to buy a team.
The White Sox agreement was a partnership with the American National Bank, which negotiated the agreement. It cost Reinsdorf $ 19 million. In two years, he had considerably improved the team; in 1983, the White Sox finished with the best baseball record. However, the team will not win a world series until 2005.
The success of the White Sox has further increased the wealth of Reinsdorf. He bought the Bulls through a syndicate for $ 16 million in 1985. Reinsdorf himself controlled a $ 9.2 million stake and then bought seven percent from another stakeholder. At the end of January 1986, Reinsdorf owned 63% of the Bulls.
At that point, the Bulls realized they had a star in Jordan. Reinsdorf quickly hired Jerry Krause as general manager, and the team acquired solid pieces like Horace Grant, Scottie Pippen and Bill Cartwright.
Of course, the Bulls dominated the 1990s, winning six titles from 1991 to 1998. But Reinsdorf, along with Krause, will also be remembered for breaking the dynasty. Reinsdorf was notoriously short of money, and Krause no longer wanted to work with Phil Jackson. How many more championships could the Bulls have won?
Reinsdorf has also played a major role in several other major MLB movements. He stopped selling the Texas Rangers in 1988 and influenced the sale of the Seattle Mariners in 1992. He is also widely credited for having ousted then commissioner Fay Vincent, who was replaced by Bud Selig the same year.
As the Internet took off at the turn of the century, Reinsdorf led the charge by creating a revenue-sharing agreement. Since 2000, all teams have received an equal share of the revenues generated by the advanced media of the Major League Baseball.
Today Reinsdorf owns around 40% of the Bulls and 19% of the White Sox. That makes his stake in Bulls worth about $ 1.28 billion and his stake in the White Sox about $ 660 million.
He spent less than $ 30 million on both teams. It is a more impressive flight than any of its players has ever succeeded.