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LEEInks list: Best owners in sports

07.14.10 at 7:35 pm ET
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Say what you will about the passing of George Steinbrenner, if you haven’t said enough already, but it certainly is difficult to argue that he wasn’t one of the most successful and overall best owners American sports has ever seen. He led the Yankees to seven World Series titles and 11 pennants during his reign as owner. He turned a franchise that he bought, along with several others, for less than $10 million in 1973 and turned it into an entity worth nearly $2 billion today. The quality of an owner can be determined by two things: championships and dollars earned, hopefully in that order. Steinbrenner had plenty of both.

So in his honor, let’s take a look at the best owners who remain in each of the four major sports.

John Henry/Tom Werner/Larry Lucchino, Red Sox

Tom Werner, John Henry and Larry Lucchino (left to right) have played key roles in bringing two World Series titles to Boston in the last decade. (AP)

Sure, this may be a bit of a homer pick, but again, just look at the resume. Since the three men led the group that bought the Red Sox in 2002, they’ve won two World Series championships, something no other Sox owner had done in 86 years. In the eight years since they arrived, no other team has won more than a single title. What’s more, they also saved one of the game’s treasures in Fenway Park by deciding to renovate the park rather than relocate as had been the plan under the previous ownership. Sox fans have many reasons to be thankful that Bud Selig allowed this team of owners to take over rather than infamous Knicks owner James Dolan, who had actually bid over Henry’s group but was blocked by Selig.

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Rockets will keep Lowry

07.14.10 at 5:12 pm ET
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Rockets general manager Daryl Morey announced on his Twitter feed Wednesday that the Rockets would match the Cavaliers’ offer for guard Kyle Lowry and retain the services of the four-year veteran.

“We plan to match the agreement, and we are excited he will be returning to the Rockets,” Morey wrote.

Lowry has spent the last 1½ seasons with Houston after starting his career in Memphis. He averaged 9.1 points, 4.5 assists and 3.6 rebounds last season in 68 games for the Rockets.

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Childress headed to Suns

07.14.10 at 5:05 pm ET
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Josh Childress, who played the last two seasons for the Greek team Olympiacos, was sent to the Suns in a sign-and-trade deal with the Hawks. Atlanta will receive a second-round draft pick in 2012 from Phoenix.

Before playing in Greece, the 27-year-old swingman from Stanford played four seasons with the Hawks. He signed a five-year contract with the Suns, who have been very busy this offseason.

After losing center Amar’e Stoudemire to the Knicks, the Suns re-signed center Channing Frye, while adding forwards Hakim Warrick and Hedo Turkoglu to bolster their roster.

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Nets name King GM

07.14.10 at 3:42 pm ET
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In an attempt add new life to its front office, the Nets reportedly have settled on former 76ers president Billy King to become the team’s new general manager. He replaces Rod Thorn, who is stepping down as president and general manager Friday.

Having served as the general manager of the 76ers for 10 years (he was let go in 2007) King is being brought in to help build a winner for new majority owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov.

Said the owner: “He will be an excellent fit with head coach Avery Johnson. Most importantly, Billy is ambitious. He wants to win.”

Although the Nets drafted highly regarded power forward Derrick Favors with the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, they still are far from a contending team in the Eastern Conference. With King’s playoff track record (he led the 76ers to the playoffs five times), the hope is that he can build another winning team in New Jersey.

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Fisher inks deal with Lakers

07.14.10 at 3:12 pm ET
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After announcing last week that he would bypass an opportunity to play with the new Big Three in Miami, Derek Fisher officially re-signed with the Lakers on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year deal for approximately $9 million.

The 6-foot-1 point guard has helped the Lakers win five championships since being drafted by them in 1996, the same year Kobe Bryant joined the team. He averaged 7.5 points and 2.5 assists a game last year, but played very well in limited minutes during the playoffs, averaging 10.3 points and 2.8 assists.

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Limbaugh under fire for racially tinged Steinbrenner comments

07.14.10 at 2:25 pm ET
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Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is being criticized for comments he made on his show Tuesday. Referring to the death of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, Limbaugh said: “That cracker made a lot of African-American millionaires. … And at the same time he fired a bunch of white guys, as managers, left and right.”

Limbaugh, who last week sold his New York City condo for a reported $11.5 million, called Steinbrenner the “classic capitalist,” adding: “What a man he was. What a feature and a character he was in Major League Baseball.”

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Oswalt best pitcher on trade market, hurt by contract

07.14.10 at 12:53 pm ET
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Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt might be the best pitcher on the trade market, but his contract might make him one of the least sought after, according to the Houston Chronicle. Oswalt is due $16 million next season with a 2012 option for the same amount. The Yankees, Reds, Mets, Rays, Dodgers, Twins and White Sox have all expressed interest in adding an arm. Oswalt has a no-trade clause, meaning he could veto any trade if he doesn’t like his destination.

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Blue Jays send Gonzalez to Braves

07.14.10 at 12:35 pm ET
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The Blue Jays sent former Red Sox shortstop Alex Gonzalez and his 17 home runs to the Braves Wednesday in a trade for shortstop Yunel Escobar and pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes. The Jays also sent two minor leaguers to Atlanta to complete the deal.

Gonzalez signed with Toronto as a free agent in the offseason after completing his second stint in Boston in 2009, hitting .284 with five home runs in 44 games. He got off to a fast start in Toronto and is hitting .259 with 17 home runs and 50 RBI in 85 games.

Escobar, in his fourth season in the majors, is considered a solid defensive player, but he has struggled this year. After hitting .299 with 14 home runs and 76 RBI in 141 games last year, he is hitting .238 with no home runs and 19 RBI in 75 games for the first-place Braves. He’s also committed nine errors.

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Report: Cavaliers-Hawks in talks for Shaq-Marvin Williams deal

07.14.10 at 12:10 pm ET
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The latest rumored landing spot for Shaquille O’Neal is Atlanta, as the Cavaliers reportedly have talked about doing a sign-and-trade with the Hawks to acquire swingman Marvin Williams.

The Hawks, looking for a center, have been rumored to have interest in Brad Miller and Kurt Thomas, also free agents like O’Neal.

Meanwhile, the Cavs signed Rockets restricted free agent guard Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet. Lowry, a 6-footer with a reputation as a solid defender, averaged 9.1 points and 4.5 assists in 68 games last season.

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Report: Fehr to be named head of NHLPA

07.14.10 at 12:08 pm ET
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After 13 years with the same title in the MLBPA, it appears Donald Fehr will take over as the executive director of the NHL Players Association, according to a tweet from Liz Mullen. Fehr is perhaps best known for leading Major Leaguers through a their 232-day strike that began in August of 1994, saw the cancellation of the season’s playoffs and World Series, and finally ended in April of 1995. Fehr also called out owners on collusion and got the players $280 million in damages. He spent the last season, his first in the NHLPA, as an advisor.

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