Jerry Colangelo Bio
Jerry Colangelo arrived in the Valley of the Sun in 1968 to take over the expansion Phoenix Suns NBA franchise as the youngest general manager in professional sports and has since guided the Suns into one of the most successful organizations in the NBA. He brought Major League Baseball to the Valley in 1998 and was chairman of the 2001 World Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. Colangelo was the key element in facilitating the move of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets to the Valley of the Sun to become the Phoenix Coyotes. Colangelo was also on the founding committee for the WNBA, and the Phoenix Mercury were one of the league’s inaugural teams in 1997.
Colangelo’s impact on the sports scene in Phoenix and the game of basketball has been so great, he was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in April 2004. He has been among The Sporting News most powerful people in sports for over the last decade and he was appointed as the first Managing Director of the USA Basketball Men’s Senior National Team program for the 2005-2008 quadrennium in April 2005. Colangelo assembled the coaches and players of the “Redeem Team,” who returned USA Basketball to Olympic glory and claimed the gold medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
The former Chairman of the NBA’s Board of Governors, Colangelo has had a major influence on the growth of the NBA. With the Suns, his roles have included general manager, head coach, president, managing general partner, chief executive officer and now chairman. The 40-plus-year tenure with one franchise is the longest in the NBA. Colangelo spent two seasons with the Chicago Bulls working as marketing director, scout and assistant to the president before moving to the Valley to help start the expansion Suns.
Colangelo’s commitment to the Valley transcends sports and he is well-known as one of the city’s most active community leaders. In recognition of his efforts in the community, Phoenix mayor Phil Gordon proclaimed March 26, 2004, Jerry Colangelo Day in the city of Phoenix. The Valley of the Sun United Way also bestowed its highest honor, the Spirit of Caring award, to Colangelo on June 30, 2005 for his passion for improving lives in the community.
Colangelo enrolled at the University of Kansas, but transferred after his prospective teammate, Wilt Chamberlain, left the Jayhawks for a pro contract. Colangelo transferred to the University of Illinois, where he earned All-Big Ten honors, captained the Illini as a senior and was later inducted into the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame. He also played two years of baseball at Illinois.
Born November 20, 1939, Colangelo grew up in the “Hungry Hill” neighborhood of Chicago Heights. Colangelo and his wife, Joan, whom he met on a blind date while at the University of Illinois, have four children: Kathy Holcombe, Kristen Brubaker, Bryan and Mandie Colangelo, and six granddaughters and four grandsons.