Jerry Colangelo (born approx. 1940) is a respected Arizona sports mogul. Owner, or part owner, of most of Arizona's professional sports teams, Colangelo arrived in Phoenix in 1968, after a stint as an assistant coach of the Chicago Bulls.
Colangelo had been granted an expansion team by the NBA when he went to Phoenix. There, he made it clear from the start that his desire was to win a world championship.
Colangelo lost a flip of the coin in 1972 to draft Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. But the Suns remained competitive most of the 1970s, and they almost made Colangelo's dream come true when they reached the Finals in 1976, losing to the Boston Celtics in six games. Colangelo had two stints as head coach during that decade, compiling a record of 59 wins and 60 losses as coach.
During a good portion of the 1980s, Colangelo's Suns faced trouble, as some of them were involved in an infamous drug scandal, and the Suns flirted with mediocrity. But when Colangelo made a trade for Kevin Johnson in 1987 that picture began to change.
The Suns started making the playoffs, something they would do for 13 straight years, and in 1989, Colangelo was an essential part of the group that planned to build America West Arena, providing financial backing. In 1992, Colangelo traded Jeff Hornacek to the Philadelphia 76ers for Charles Barkley. The trade proved to be productive for the Suns, and they reached the NBA Finals for the second time in 1993, this time losing to the Bulls in six games. Barkley's relationship with Colangelo, however, grew sour over the years, and in 1996, he was traded to the Houston Rockets.
Before that, in 1995, Colangelo had been granted a Major League Baseball expansion team: The Arizona Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks began to play in 1998, one year after another Colangelo team, the Women's National Basketball Association's Phoenix Mercury, had begun play. The Mercury reached the WNBA finals, losing to the Houston Comets. Another Colangelo team, Arena Football League's Arizona Rattlers, gave Colangelo his first championship in 1994, and once again, in 1997. The Rattlers have been playing since 1992.
With the help of such notables as Mark Grace, Tony Womack, Luis Gonzalez, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, the Diamondbacks were finally able to give Colangelo what he wanted most: A major league world championship. They beat the New York Yankees in seven games in 2001 to win the World Series.
Colangelo, who is good friends with boxing promoter Bob Arum, has also tried to bring boxing to Arizona, and was on of the persons behind the building of the Dodge Theater there. Dodge Theater, in turn, has turned into an important boxing venue in the American Southwest.
He has received several community awards, and recently, he turned over the Suns' presidency to his son Bryan. His relationship with Barkley has improved with years, and Colangelo has declared himself a newborn Christian, reason that he credits for his change of heart about Barkley.
Colangelo has also been known for his no-nonsense ownership style. Players like the Suns' Dennis Johnson and Jason Kidd and the Diamondbacks' Bobby Chounard have been traded or released from his teams after their personal problems came to the public light.
Colangelo has been named the NBA's Executive of the Year four times.