CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan/AP) — George Gund III, the original owner of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks and former co-owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, has died. He was 75.
The Sharks say Gund died Tuesday after a battle with cancer.
Gund, along with his younger brother Gordon, purchased the Cavaliers from Ted Stepien in 1983 before selling the franchise to billionaire Dan Gilbert in 2005.
The Gund brothers saved basketball in Cleveland and helped turn the franchise around in the late 80’s and early 90’s before the team fell on hard times.
After the Cleveland Browns declined involvement in the Gateway instant payday loans project that included a new ballpark for the Cleveland Indians, the Gund brothers agreed to move the Cavaliers from the Coliseum in Richfield Ohio back downtown to what is now called Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavaliers didn’t recover until they won the NBA Draft Lottery and the ability to select LeBron James with the top pick in 2003.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson praised Gund as a great ambassador for hockey.
Gund and his brother Gordon relinquished their ownership stake in the Minnesota North Stars in 1990 in exchange for the rights to an expansion team in the Bay Area. The Sharks played their first game in October 1991.
Gund sold the franchise to Sharks Sports & Entertainment in 2002 but continued to attend games.
Gund also previously held ownership roles with the NHL’s California Golden Seals and Cleveland Barons.
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