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Another Owner Dies: Jazz, Pistons, Bobcats & now Nets

Discussion in 'NBA Dish' started by yobod, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. yobod

    yobod Member

    Jun 23, 2002
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    This past year has been pretty unfortunate for many NBA team owners.

    -Jazz Owner
    -Bobcats Co-Owner
    -Pistons Owner

    and now Nets Co-Owner owner

    INDIANAPOLIS -- Melvin Simon, the son of a New York City tailor who started what is now the country's largest shopping mall company and owned the NBA's Indiana Pacers with his brother, died Wednesday, a spokesman said. He was 82.

    Les Morris, a spokesman for Simon Property Group, which Simon spent nearly 40 years leading, confirmed Simon's death but said he could not discuss the circumstances. Simon had not made any public appearances in recent months and his brother had asked for prayers for him at a July event during which the two were honored as Indiana legends.

    Simon Property Group has full or partial ownership of more than 300 shopping malls in the United States, Europe and Japan. Simon's interests extended to politics as he and his wife were major Democratic Party donors and to Hollywood, where he was best known for producing the raunchy teen comedy "Porky's."

    But Simon's main business was building and operating enclosed suburban shopping malls across the country, netting him a fortune that Forbes magazine estimated this year at $1.3 billion.

    Simon, who grew up in the Bronx, arrived in Indianapolis in the 1950s when he was stationed at the Army's Fort Benjamin Harrison and entered the commercial real estate business in the city after his discharge.

    "I enjoyed it, but in a couple of years I decided I wanted to be the person to make the decisions," Simon told Indiana Business magazine in 1991. "That's how we got into developing."

    He started Melvin Simon & Associates with his younger brother, Herbert, in 1960, concentrating at first on strip centers anchored by grocery stores and pharmacies. The scale of its projects grew until it opened the Mall of America in a Minneapolis suburb in 1992 -- running the mega-mall until selling its interest in 2006 -- and the Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis in 1995.

    The Simon brothers were credited with keeping professional basketball in Indianapolis when they bought the Pacers in 1983 at the behest of city leaders to head off a deal that could have seen the team move to Sacramento, Calif.

    While Simon's guests at his estate in suburban Carmel included former President Bill Clinton and his philanthropy gave $50 million for Indiana University's cancer center and $10 million to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, he kept a low profile, rarely speaking in public or giving interviews.

    Little was said about his recent health except when Herb Simon asked for prayers for him at the state historical society event in July.

    "Whatever we have accomplished, I know in my heart he's a legend of all legends for me," Herb Simon said at the time. "He started this thing."

    The Simon family has remained the largest shareholder in Simon Property Group, and when the founding brothers stepped down as co-chairmen in 2007, they turned the chairmanship over to Mel's oldest son, David, who had been its CEO since 1995. One daughter, Deborah Simon, leads the Simon Youth Foundation and another, Cindy Simon Skjodt, heads the Pacers Foundation.

    Simon had been married since 1972 to his wife, Bren, a former member of the Democratic National Committee and a leader of numerous charitable and civic organizations. His first wife, Bess Meshulam Simon, died of cancer in 1977, and the Simons later gave $2.1 million toward an Indiana University music center that was named for her in 1995.

    Simon had five children, including a son, Max, who died in 1999 at age 25.

    The Indiana Pacers staged a great turnaround after the Simons bought the NBA franchise, even though they remained behind the scenes for most of their ownership.

    The Pacers were coming off a 20-62 season and averaged home crowds of fewer than 5,000 fans when they bought the team in 1983 -- less than a year before the NFL's Colts moved to the city from Baltimore.

    The Simons promoted Donnie Walsh from assistant coach to general manager three years later and largely gave him control of the team for some 20 years. With star players such as Reggie Miller and Jermaine O'Neal, the Pacers reached the Eastern Conference finals six times in 11 years and the NBA finals in 2000, losing in six games to the Los Angeles Lakers.

    The team's success led to the construction of Conseco Fieldhouse, which opened in 1999, replacing Market Square Arena.

    A run of on- and off-court troubles with players -- most prominently the 2004 brawl with Detroit Pistons fans -- ended their playoff success and led Herb Simon to take over day-to-day operations after Walsh became New York Knicks president in 2008.

    Simon's time as a Hollywood movie producer was marred when his daughter, Deborah, was kidnapped in 1981 from outside her parents' Beverly Hills mansion. The 25-year-old escaped unharmed the next day and police arrested the gunman who apparently picked her at random and then demanded a $500,000 ransom.

    He also was executive producer of "My Bodyguard," "When A Stranger Calls," and "The Stunt Man," as well as "Porky's" and its two sequels, "Porky's II: The Next Day" and "Porky's Revenge."

    Simon said he was "absolutely flabbergasted" when "Porky's" -- with its scenes of teenage boys spying on girls in a locker room shower and visiting a brothel named Porky's -- became a big hit in 1982.

    Melvin Simon Productions more frequently had flops, including "Zorro, The Gay Blade" with George Hamilton and Carol Burnett's "Chu Chu and The Philly Flash."

    "I did about 25 movies and I got out of it, thank God -- it didn't cost me any money ultimately," Simon told The Indianapolis Star in 2002. "It was a good lesson, and I wouldn't do it again."

  2. jeffvangundy

    jeffvangundy Member

    Jan 26, 2009
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    Pacers or Nets owner?
  3. tmactoyao

    tmactoyao Member

    Jun 26, 2008
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    RIP, he was co-owner of the Pacers.
  4. RedRowdy111

    RedRowdy111 Contributing Member

    Aug 26, 2006
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    I wish I can inherit a franchise
  5. yobod

    yobod Member

    Jun 23, 2002
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  6. tested911

    tested911 Member

    Dec 12, 2002
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    Wow this is the guy who's company Owns the Galleria.
  7. ItsMyFault

    ItsMyFault Contributing Member

    Jan 28, 2009
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    Damn... I thought it was Jay-Z... scared me there...

    Anyways, RIP.

    Nice job with the title... NETS.... Fail.
    #7 ItsMyFault, Sep 16, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2009

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