Max Winter, who was born in Austria before emigrating to Minneapolis, helped to introduce major league sports to Minnesota.
After graduating from Minneapolis North where he played football and basketball, he attended Hamline University.
Winter became involved with the Minneapolis Lakers after Ben Berger and Maurice Chalfen purchased the Detroit Gems and moved the franchise to Minneapolis in 1946. Winter was part-owner, president and general manager of the Lakers. Under his leadership the Lakers became the NBA's first dynasty winning five NBA titles in six years.
"He had been an athlete, a swimmer, boxer," former Vikings coach Bud Grant told the Star Tribune in 1996. "At Hamline, he had played some basketball, so he understood sports. He had the patience required to run a sports team."
Winter was instrumental in bringing an NFL franchise to Minnesota. In late 1959, Minnesota was granted a franchise in the newly-formed American Football League, but Winter urged his ownership group to pursue an NFL franchise. In January of 1960, the NFL awarded Minnesota an expansion team, which would begin play in 1961.
Winter eventually became the biggest single shareholder and team president of the Vikings. He served as the Vikings president from 1965 to 1987 and remained on the Vikings board of directors until 1989. During that time, he was a force behind getting the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome built in downtown in Minneapolis. The Metrodome opened in 1982.
"He was one of the great general managers of a sports team that we have known," former Laker Vern Mikkelsen told the Star Tribune in 1996. "He proved it with the Lakers and the Vikings. He was an entrepreneur and shrewd businessman."
Sports: Basketball, football.
Business: Minneapolis Lakers general manager, Minnesota Vikings president.