We regularly hear about NBA players, but it’s not too often that NBA team owners get our attention. This is especially true about the mysterious owner of the Indiana Pacers, Herb Simon. A real estate tycoon, Simon is an interesting character with many stories to tell. Here’s what we know about the Pacers’ owner.
Herb Simon is a self-made billionaire
Unlike many other NBA owners, Simon didn’t grow up with a lot of money. Born in 1934, he was raised in the Bronx with Jewish immigrant parents from Central Europe. Instead of attending an Ivy League University, he went to the City College of New York, where he studied business.
In the ’60s, Simon and his brother Melvin opened a real estate investment business. They made history when Simon Property Group went public and became the largest real estate investment trust at the time. The company now owns hundreds of shopping malls around the world.
When asked about his success, Simon quickly credited his brother, who passed away in 2009. “I don’t think it was any one thing,” he told NBA Media Ventures, “but I think especially with Mel being the oldest, he knew that he had to get out of the Bronx someday, and there were bigger worlds to conquer. And, he just dragged me along with him.”
Herb Simon never wanted to be an NBA team owner
When asked why he decided to buy the Pacers, Simon explained that it was never his plan. “Well, really we weren’t the type of owners that were seeking to buy a basketball team,” he said. “We were minding our own business, building our company.
Simon continues, “The powers to be, the mayor and a bunch of other citizens came to us and said that the team is about to be sold and moved to Sacramento and we need to keep it here and would you and your brother buy it? So, we looked at each other and said, ‘Sure.’ That’s how it happened.”
But after some time, Simon realized how important an NBA team is to the community. Now he wants to make the Pacers the best they can be. “We were very happy we bought it and now our desire is to make this thing economically viable so this thing can stay here long after I’m gone,” he said.
Herb Simon has been good for the Pacers
Simon kept his promise of doing the best he could for the team. Last year, he helped the Pacers smooth out a deal to get Malcolm Brogdon from the Bucks. Simon worked out a sign-and-trade deal that gave the Bucks extra draft picks in exchange for Brogdon. Everyone walked away from trade happy. As USA Today reports, he did this as “a showing of respect for his division rival.”
Simon has also managed to keep the Pacers in Indianapolis — for at least 25 more years. In 2019, he worked out a deal that included $295 million in public subsidies for a renovation and expansion of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the NBA team’s downtown arena, in exchange for remaining in the area.
Now that Simon is 85 years old, he’s making plans for the Pacers’ future without him. He’s owned the team for almost 40 years, and he wants it to stay in his family when he’s gone. The plan is for his son, Steve Simon, to take over when the time comes.
We know very little about Herb, and he’s owned the team decades. Now, we wonder if this will change when his son takes over. As a younger man, Steve may be more open to public life.
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