Owners Approve Grizzlies Sale

The orderly and extended transition from David Stern to Adam Silver as NBA commissioner over the next 15 months rightly dominated the news coming out of the league’s Board of Governors meeting Thursday. But that wasn’t the only topic discussed and dealt with by the owners.

They also unanimously approved the sale of the Memphis Grizzlies to an ownership group headed by investor Robert Pera and including widely known minority partners such as Peyton and Ashley Manning, entertainer Justin Timberlake and former NBA players Penny Hardaway and Elliot Perry. The group has a number of people with Memphis roots.

“I actually know that someone that lives in Memphis is called a Memphian,” Stern said, “and I am looking forward to this Memphian who is going to connect this team in an even stronger way to the community.”

San Antonio Spurs CEO Peter Holt is the new BOG chairman, taking over for Minnesota owner Glen Taylor, who had served in that role since 2008. “We are being nice to David, but I want to be extra nice to Glen,” Holt said. “This has gone really smoothly. Glen has stayed in the chairmanship much longer than normal to allow the continuity to be smooth from obviously David to Adam, but also throughout the ownership group.  So I want to thank Glen for that.”

A discussion on accepting ads in the form of jersey patches as another revenue stream was pushed to the BOG’s next meeting.

Media members from Seattle and Sacramento asked for updates on NBA aspirations and uncertainty, respectively, in those markets. Local government in Seattle has approved a new arena deal contingent on an environmental study and an NBA team, but a SuperSonics 2.0 doesn’t seem to be atop any league priority list.

“We deal with a lot of cities, Seattle happens to be another great city,” Stern said. “We have dealt with everything from Kansas City, Virginia Beach, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Louisville. All of cities of certain type that would like to considered for an NBA franchise. Anaheim, Vancouver, Las Vegas. So Seattle is very much in the mix.”

Stern also didn’t rule out expansion, but that too sounded like something “Commissioner Silver” would be dealing with.

As for Sacramento, fans there still are on edge awaiting the fate of an arena deal and the inclinations of the Maloof family that owns the Kings. That franchise still could wind up relocating to Orange County, to one of the cities mentioned by Stern or simply staying put. Stern made it sound like an arena needs to happen in Sacramento before the anxiety goes away.

“During a difficult period of time, the fans and businesses of Sacramento have responded in an extraordinary way,” he said. “I would urge them to continue supporting the team.  Hope the efforts don’t go unrewarded.”

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