|Former Cavaliers owner Stepien dead at 82|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 10 September 2007 18:53|
Stepien paid $2 million for 37 percent of the Cavaliers in April 1980 and soon became the majority shareholder. The Cavaliers went 66-180, dropped to the bottom of the league in attendance and lost $15 million during Stepien's three years of ownership.
He went through six coaches during that span, including four during the 1981-82 season - Don Delaney, Bob Kloppenburg, Chuck Daly and Bill Musselman. The team finished 15-67.
Because of his habit of trading draft picks for mediocre players, the league passed the ``Stepien Rule,'' which restricts teams from dealing future first-round selections in consecutive years.
Stepien sold the team to George and Gordon Gund for $20 million in 1983. NBA owners awarded the Cavaliers bonus first-round picks for each year from 1983-86 to help compensate for the ones Stepien traded away.
``I don't feel I failed,'' Stepien later said. ``I rescued a bankrupt organization.''
The son of a railroad inspector, Stepien joined the Army Air Force in 1943 and was a navigator-bomber during World War II with the rank of lieutenant.
After the war, he worked as a clerk in an advertising company in Pittsburgh. He moved to Cleveland in 1947 seeking to start his own company.
With $500 borrowed from his father, Stepien launched Nationwide Advertising Service Inc., running ads from prospective employers and home-sellers in 80 Ohio weekly newspapers at $5 each. He grew Nationwide into 31 offices in three countries.
After selling the Cavaliers, Stepien owned several minor league basketball teams, including the Toronto Tornadoes and the Mississippi Coast (Biloxi) Jets.
``The Cavaliers organization extends our sympathies to the Stepien family as they deal with the passing of Ted,'' the team said in a statement.
Mahon-Murphy Funeral Home in Lyndhurst. Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Frances of Assisi Church in Gates Mills.