Richard Heckmann, co-owner of NBA's Phoenix Suns and WNBA's Phoenix Mercury, died Saturday, according to the Arizona Republic. He was 76 years old. Along with being the co-owner of two sports teams, Heckmann was a successful businessman and philanthropist. He was also the co-owner of Callaway Golf, sporting goods manufacturer K2, Nuverra Environmental Solutions and others.
"Dick’s philanthropic spirit coupled with his sharp business acumen was what separated him from the pack," Managing Partner Robert Sarver said in the statement. "The legacy he built in the business world is only surpassed by his legacy of improving the community and his charismatic approach to life. I will deeply miss my friend and his kindness and presence."
According to the Palm Springs Desert Sun, Heckman died from complications related to multiple system atrophy, a degenerative neurological disorder similar to Parkinson's disease. There will be no public event, but the family will hold a small service. Heckmann's wife, Wendy Hope, described the type of man he was to the Desert Sun.
“He was charismatic, loving, kind, fun, the life of the party, super intelligent," she said. "His brain was working like crazy until the very last breath." The couple had been together for 16 years and had two children together. Heckmann also has five children from a previous marriage. Heckmann has been involved with the NBA since 2004, when he was a member of an investment group that purchased the Suns for $401 million. During that time, the Suns were at their peak as Steve Nash was the best basketball player in the league, and the team was making deep runs in the playoffs.
However, things haven't been going great for the Suns lately. The team hasn't reached the playoffs since 2010 and only had one winning record during that span. The Suns finished with a 34-39 record this past season and fell short of reaching the postseason bubble. Devin Booker was the team's top player averaging 26.6 points per contest.
"There's always room for improvement," Booker said to GQ when talking about the team's play earlier this year. "I think we’ve already surpassed our win total from last year by five wins already, and we have a whole new roster with the addition of Ricky Rubio, plus Kelly Oubre was only with us for two months last year. I knew it’d take a little bit of time. I still feel like we have a shot at the playoffs. We’re just going to have to go on a really good run."