|Businessman, sport mogul, leader, visionary .....legend. These are just some of the words used to describe Jerry Colangelo. Most know Colangelo as the successful team owner of the NBA Phoenix Suns as well as the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Few know the story that gave us one of the most influential sports businessmen to work with the NBA, MLB, NHL, WNBA and the USA Men's Basketball Team.
Colangelo was born and raised in the "Hungry Hill" neighborhood of Chicago Heights, in a house that his grandfather constructed with wood from railroad cars.
After a successful collegiate basketball career with the University of Kansas and the University of Illinois where Jerry earned All-Big Ten honors, Jerry found himself a part of the Chicago Bulls basketball team. For two seasons, Jerry worked in a variety of jobs including marketing director, scout and assistant to the president; roles that put him on a path to Phoenix.
In 1968, at only 26 years old, Colangelo became the youngest general manager in sports history for a new expansion team, the Phoenix Suns. Jerry arrived to the Valley of the Sun with his wife and $300 to his name. In 1987, Colangelo fulfilled his dream and along with a group of investors, purchased the Phoenix Suns and changed the sports landscape in the Southwest forever.
For forty years, the second longest tenure with a single team in NBA history, Colangelo's hands-on leadership style was evidenced in his many roles including general manager, head coach, president, managing general partner, chief executive officer and chairman.
Colongelo's vision did not end with the NBA. In 1998, Jerry brought Major League Baseball to Phoenix and in just four years, the Arizona Diamondbacks won the 2001 World Championship, a record for Major League Baseball.
Through Colangelo's leadership and vision, he was instrumental in forming and developing the other teams that dominate the Valley's sports culture. In 1997, Colangelo helped to bring the WNBA to Phoenix with the Phoenix Mercury and helped negotiate the move of the NHL's Winnipeg Jets to the desert, which now play as the Phoenix Coyotes. In 1991, Colangelo formed the Arizona Rattlers, two time arena football champions.
In 2005, Jerry was named Director of USA Basketball, assembling the coaches and players of the "Redeem Team" who went on to win gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2012, Colangelo and Team USA will defend the gold medal in London at the Summer Olympics.
Colangelo was also the co-author, along with Len Sherman, of How You Play the Game: Lessons for Life from the Billion-Dollar Business of Sports, published in 1999.
Jerry Colangelo's contributions to the city of Phoenix, professional sports, and the study of leadership are remarkable. As an active community leader, Colangelo has demonstrated that a tireless work ethic and limitless ambition are enough for anybody to achieve greatness. His accomplishments transcend the world of sports and serve as inspiration to future generations of leaders.
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