Former NBA, NFL Owner Billy Joe ‘Red’ McCombs Dead At 95

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Leena Nasir Entertainment Reporter
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Billy Joe “Red” McCombs, former owner of the San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets, and Minnesota Vikings, died Sunday at his home in San Antonio at age 95.

“Red was a visionary entrepreneur who touched many lives and impacted our community in immeasurable ways,” his family said in a statement Monday, according to ESPN. “But to us he was always, first and foremost, ‘Dad’ or ‘Poppop.’ We mourn the loss of a Texas icon.”

His cause of death was not revealed as of early Tuesday morning.


McCombs purchased the ABA Dallas Chaparrals and relocated the team to San Antonio, where they went on to be known as the Spurs in the 1973-74 season. He was instrumental in getting the Spurs into the NBA, as part of the ABA-NBA merger in 1976. He sold his share of the Spurs in 1982 and bought the Nuggets, then sold the Nuggets to purchase the Spurs again in 1986, according to ESPN.

His record of purchasing franchises was captured in another bold move in 1998. McCombs purchased the Vikings for $246 million and maintained ownership until 2005. He stayed true to his pattern of owning sports franchises for a short time, and sold the team to the Wilf family for $600 million. The Vikings reached the NFC Championship Game twice during his tenure, according to ESPN.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver called McCombs “a driving force in creating the modern NBA,” and went on to release a statement saying, “He was an innovator and savvy entrepreneur who never shied away from taking risks.” (RELATED: Paul Silas, LeBron James’ First NBA Coach, Dead At 79)

McCombs also had a passion for automotive racing and played a significant role in Formula One’s return to the U.S. He became one of the largest investors in the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, where the Grand Prix has been hosted since 2012, according to ESPN.

“Race fans will be forever grateful for Red McCombs, the visionary investor who helped fund the internationally famous race track Circuit of the Americas,” Mario Andretti wrote to Twitter.

“A wonderful friend to motorsports and certainly a friend of mine. RIP Red,” Andretti wrote.

McCombs was a dedicated businessman that owned more than 400 businesses, according to the McCombs Enterprises website. He owned several automotive dealerships and established McCombs Energy. He operated land development companies and was a co-founder of Clear Channel Communications, which later became iHeartCommunications, Inc., according to ESPN.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called McCombs “a true Texas titan across sports, media, business and philanthropy.”

“Red’s determination, accomplishments and positive spirit will live forever as he embodied a relentless and passionate approach to life, relationships and community,” Jones said, according to ESPN.

Charline McCombs, Red’s wife, died in December 2019. He is survived by daughters Lynda McCombs, Marsha Shields and Connie McNab, as well as eight grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.