Friday, October 14, 2011
Report: 76ers sale is approved
PHILADELPHIA -- A person familiar with the deal says the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors.
The person spoke on the condition of anonymity Friday because the sale has not yet closed. That could happen early next week.
The sale was approved by the board this week, paving the way for New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris to take control of the franchise. It ends Comcast-Spectacor's 15-year run of ownership that included a trip to the NBA Finals.
Comcast-Spectacor, led by chairman Ed Snider, purchased the Sixers from Harold Katz on April 24, 1996. Comcast-Spectacor also owns the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers.
Harris buys the Sixers with the NBA in the midst of a lockout. The first two weeks of the regular season have already been canceled.
Harris is one of three founders of Apollo Global Management, a publicly listed alternative investment manager. He leads a group that includes former NBA player agent and Sacramento Kings executive Jason Levien.
The 76ers were valued this year by Forbes at $330 million, 17th in the NBA, and have a television deal with cable station Comcast SportsNet through 2029.
Harris co-founded Apollo Global Management in 1990. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and a master's degree from the Harvard Business School.
His group is purchasing a team that hasn't won a championship since 1983. Under Snider's ownership, the 76ers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals.
Snider said last month that sagging crowds and massive financial losses led Comcast-Spectacor to pitch a "for sale" sign and strike a tentative deal to sell in July.
"It was mostly economics," Snider said of the decision.
"A lot," Snider said, declining specifics. "We felt that we had given it our best shot and it was time for someone else to take over."
The deal did not include ownership of their building, the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sixers have won only one playoff series since 2001 and have been stuck in mediocrity for most of the last decade. They haven't had a winning record since 2004-05, but have made the playoffs three times since.
This past season, the Sixers won 41 games and stretched the Miami Heat to a five-game playoff series in Doug Collins' first season as coach.
Harris didn't return an interview request through Apollo on Friday. Coach Doug Collins said recently he had not met his new boss.
"I think they want to feel that they own the team before they get front and center," Collins said. "They've been very adamant in the fact that they want to keep a very low profile until they own the team."
Before the lockout, the Sixers would have had about $55 million in payroll committed to next season, led by Elton Brand's $17 million and Andre Iguodala's $13.5 million. The Sixers spent the summer in trade talks involving Iguodala -- plans that have been put on hold because of the lockout.