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The Worst NBA Executives of All Time

Updated February 27, 2020 2.8k votes 462 voters 15.0k views18 items

List RulesAny team owner or general manager of an NBA team

The worst NBA executives of all time are those National Basketball Association team owners and general managers who led their teams to some of the worst seasons on the books, mismanaged players to the point it hurt their teams and overall stunk it up. These men may have been talented professional basketball players but that certainly didn't translate to front office success later on.

While there are many other factors to consider, the executives who led their teams to the worst NBA records are instant contenders for the worst NBA executives of all time. Interestingly enough, the NBA executive who led his team to the absolute worst winning percentage over a season ever is also arguably one of the best basketball players of all time.

That's right, Michael Jordan, the accomplished player forever known as the best basketball player of all time in the NBA, is also arguably the worst NBA executive of all time. In the shortened 2011-12 NBA season, Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats won only 10.6% of their games and finished with a 7-59 record. Statistically, this season was the worst ever with the seven wins a new record for least wins in a year. Some even argue that had the 2011-12 campaign not started late due to the lockout that the win total wouldn't have changed.

But Jordan is far from the only former great player to have an unsuccessful transition into management. Legendary NBA point guard Isiah Thomas did fantastic things as a player for the Detroit Pistons but when he tried his hand as Vice President of the Toronto Raptors, coach of the Indiana Pacers or President of Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks, things went horribly wrong.

Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas are just two examples of the many failures to serve as executives in the National Basketball Association throughout the years. Elgin Baylor, Chris Mullin, Joe Dumars and many others all were horrible as well. Is Jordan the worst ever? Will his management record ever be broken? Which other executives are the worst ever? Tell us by voting for which executives you think are the worst or adding any we missed below!
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  • Michael Jordan1
    174
    69
  • Kevin McHale2
    124
    69
  • Chris Mullin3
    99
    59
  • Isiah Thomas4
    149
    144
  • George Shinn5
    52
    46
  • Jerry West6
    79
    83

    Jerry West

    Age: 82
  • Allan Bristow7
    41
    42
  • Vlade Divac8
    8
    1
  • Elgin Baylor9
    53
    62
  • Willis Reed10
    101
    133
  • Larry Bird11
    66
    112

    Larry Bird

    Age: 64
  • M. L. Carr12
    37
    65

    M. L. Carr

    Age: 69
  • Joe Dumars13
    38
    75

    Joe Dumars

    Age: 57
  • Dick Vitale14
    45
    124
  • Norm Sonju15
    32
    110
  • Don DeJardin16
    33
    116
  • Ted Stepien17
    31
    112

    Ted Stepien

    Age: 82 (deceased)
    Former Owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, due to Stepien trading away so many 1st round draft picks to acquire mediocre talent to, in theory, make Cleveland a contender as quick as he could, the NBA instituted what is commonly referred to as the "Stepien Rule," which states that a team (usually) cannot trade its first-round pick in consecutive years.[6] After Stepien dealt away several 1st round draft picks to the Dallas Mavericks, who were a newly formed expansion team, the NBA froze Cleveland's trading rights to prevent him from giving up the team's picks for the rest of the 1980s and 1990s; while the freeze was officially ended after the 1981-82 season, Stepien never traded away another 1st-round pick afterwards before he sold the team.
  • Wes Unseld18
    34
    137

    Wes Unseld

    Age: 74