Tsai officially assumes full ownership of Nets
Record $3.5 billion deal approved by NBA Board of Governors
Joe Tsai has assumed full control of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center after the NBA Board of Governors officially approved his record-breaking $3.5 billion purchase of the franchise and arena from former owner Mikhail Prokhorov on Wednesday.
Tsai, known primarily as the co-founder of Alibaba, has long been involved in professional sports holdings such as the WNBA’s New York Liberty.
He also owns the San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League as well as having investments in the Premier Lacrosse League, Los Angeles FC of Major League Soccer and several sports media and technology companies based in North America and Asia.
The 55-year-old native of Taiwan has long coveted a major American pro sports franchise, and he has landed a big one in the Nets, who have seen their profile in the NBA soar exponentially with the offseason acquisitions of two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
“With full ownership of the Nets and Barclays Center, we will continue to bring our exciting brand of basketball to our fans,” said Tsai.
“We’ve made a strong commitment to Brooklyn and it will be a privilege to present the best of Barclays Center with its great entertainment to our community.”
As reported earlier this week, Tsai, who originally bought a 49 percent stake in the franchise back in 2018 with an option to assume full control in 2021, was able to push up that purchase date by nearly two years.
He inherits a team that went from a league-worst 20 wins three seasons ago to last year’s 42-win effort, which resulted in Brooklyn’s first playoff appearance in four seasons and first winning campaign in five years.
Most of that team building has been credited to Nets General Manager Sean Marks and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson, who were instrumental not only in getting this once-moribund franchise back on the winning track, but also luring coveted free agents like Durant and Irving to Downtown Brooklyn.
“Sean and Kenny have done an extraordinary job building the team,” Tsai noted. “They established the culture, developed talent that others couldn’t see, and made Brooklyn the place where the best players want to play.
“We have an incredible group of players who want to win, and because of their talent and hard work, we are now in a great position to compete. I am thrilled to be partners with winners!”
Tsai also officially named former Turner Sports President David Levy as Chief Executive Officer of the Nets and Barclays.
Levy will also serve as the President of J Tsai Sports, the sports investment and holding vehicle controlled by Tsai.
Additionally, Levy will join Tsai’s family office as a venture partner, with coverage of sports, media and entertainment investments globally.
In his role as CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center, Levy, who has more than a 30-year career working with the NBA, will oversee all business, revenue, strategy and operations for the franchise and arena.
“David brings a unique combination of sports and media know-how, strategic thinking and operating skills to our sports and entertainment business,” Tsai said.
“He is an entrepreneur at heart with the experience of managing and scaling organizations, and I really look forward to working with him.”
Levy, who spent more than three decades at Turner Broadcasting, including the previous six as president of the company while overseeing the network’s coverage of both NBA and NCAA basketball, will take on the role formerly held by long-time Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark.
“I am excited and honored to join the Nets organization and look forward to working alongside Joe and the talented forward-thinking executives and team members across the entire organization,” said Levy.
“Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have done a terrific job instilling a winning culture and I am looking forward to supporting them as we build a sustainable foundation of success on and off the court. I am excited for our fans and can’t wait to get started.”
In local college sports news, the St. Francis Brooklyn’s men’s soccer squad got back on the winning track Wednesday with a 1-0 blanking of Howard University in Washington D.C.
The Terriers, trying to reclaim their Northeast Conference crown after failing to reach the league tournament a season ago, improved to 3-1-1 on the young season while continuing to impose their stalwart defense on opponents.
Through the season’s first five contests, Head Coach Tom Giovatto’s team has yielded just a single goal, which came in last Saturday’s 1-0 setback at Saint Peter’s in Jersey City.
The Terriers are now tied for the least amount of goals surrendered in the entire nation thus far this season.
They also boast a freshman netminder in Callum James who has begun his career with an eye-popping 335-minute scoreless streak.
Senior Nicolas Casado got the start against Howard on Tuesday and blanked the Bisons for his first shutout of the year while sophomore forward Khaled Abdella provided the only goal the stingy Terriers would need in the 80th minute.
“Defense was a big emphasis starting from the spring into preseason,” said Giovatto, who led SFC to four NEC titles in six seasons before last year’s letdown campaign.
“We take a lot of pride in defending,” he added. “Our (goalkeepers) and defenders have really worked hard and done a great job so far. The entire team is working hard and understanding the importance of their role on the defensive side of the ball. It has been a total team effort.”
The Terriers will look to add to their early-season success Saturday night when they host Manhattan College under the lights at the Poly Prep Country Day School, one of two scheduled home matches SFC will play in Dyker Heights this year.
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