“Jay-Z once said, ‘you don’t rest until you die, and I thought that was a pretty strong statement,’” says Joseph Phillips, owner of the Windy City Monsters, a pro basketball team within the American Basketball Association. “And that’s true; you rest in peace, that’s when it’s time to rest. This work is 24-7.”
There are ballers, and then there are those who own the team. Chicagoan Joseph Phillips fits squarely into the latter category, with a solid street cred as a college hoops player-turned-sports reporter-turned pro team owner.
Phillips tells rolling out that the love of business and sports led him to this new venture.
“We’re located in Evanston, Illinois; our facility is the Fleetwood Jourdain Community Center. This Friday, [July 1] we’ll be playing against the Chicago Fury at 7 p.m. father and son night.”
What made you decide to buy a pro basketball team?
I started off in media. I had a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics scholarship, that’s another level of college basketball. I played on the Robert Morris side, I got my A.A. and my B.A. there, and I got my post-bachelors from Columbia College in journalism and got into media. I was an editorial assistant with the Chicago Tribune for a while. [I covered] high school sports. Then I went to the Chicago Defender for a while and I was the interim sports editor for Larry Gross.
Eventually my love for sports and business led me to collaborate with other people and network. … My partner, he played in a league, and he said it would be a good idea if we could invest in a minor league affiliate.
How much did it cost to buy your own team?
That’s confidential (laughs).
Was it very expensive or somewhat expensive?
Let’s just put it this way, it’s reasonable.
What are your duties as the owner?
Marketing guy, public relations guy, and sometimes broker. It’s business 24-7, I am at this event tonight networking, and trying to build my corporate team. Add new talent every day, whether it’s basketball or on the professional side. Trying to get better and add more dimension to what we’re doing.
So you’re actively shopping for players, too?
Yes, each week, we have this thing called Over Run. … We invite people around from the city, it’s $100 to register, and if we like you, we keep you, and if we don’t we’ll send you home.
So you can play as long as you have game?
What is your advice for future entrepreneurs who want to invest in a sports team?
First of all, find your passion, you’ll never know where your passion might carry you. … I’ll be doing other things, too. Just like with my media aspect, this is not my last stop I’m going to always keep doing it. So if you have your passion, let it carry you to where it needs to take you.
What did you think of this year’s basketball season?
I thought it went well, I thought this team peaked before it’s time — the Chicago Bulls and the Miami Heat — I’m not a hater or anything like that, but you reap what you sow.