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Thursday, October 4, 2012
Peyton Manning part-owner in NBA

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning isn't allowed to own a piece of a football team per NFL rules, but that doesn't mean he can't own a piece of another team in another sport.

Sources have confirmed to ESPN.com that Manning is part of the proposed ownership group led by Robert Pera, who agreed to buy the Memphis Grizzlies from Michael Heisley for about $350 million this summer.

The news of the involvement of Manning, who played collegiately at the University of Tennessee, was first reported by Chris Vernon of ESPN Radio Memphis. The ownership stake is actually in the name of Manning's wife, Ashley, but one source confirmed that Peyton Manning is involved. The Manning's stake in the team and how much they paid for it is not known.

"While my focus is on playing quarterback for the Denver Broncos, I look forward to watching her become involved with her hometown team," Peyton Manning said.

Ashley Manning is very excited to commit to the Grizzlies' new ownership group.

"As a native of Memphis, it was important to me that the Grizzlies remain in Tennessee and continue to have a positive impact on the community," she said.

Manning's involvement will not be a conflict for the quarterback with the NFL, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello.

Through last week, Manning has earned more than $178 million on the field and tens of millions of dollars more off it as the most popular endorser in the NFL.

Since Pera agreed to the deal, shares of his company Ubiquiti Networks has been hard hit. On a single day in August, Pera lost $365 million on paper when the company's stock plummeted. Shares since have rebounded modestly.

In recent months, Pera has added local partners, including AutoZone founder J.R. "Pitt" Hyde and financier Staley Cates, who were minority owners under Heisley. In September, Pera scored pop star and actor Justin Timberlake on the ownership roster. Sources also confirmed Thursday that former NBA player Penny Hardaway -- who grew up in Memphis and played at Memphis State -- has joined the group.

A source with knowledge of the sale told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the transfer of ownership from Heisley to Pera and his high-profile partners remains on course to be approved by the start of the regular season later this month. The NBA Board of Governors is scheduled to have its meeting Oct. 24-25 in New York City.

Grizzlies guard Mike Conley said Tuesday that the ownership change will not affect the players themselves or change what they have to do on the court. But they all have heard about Pera, the former Apple engineer who left in 2005 to start Ubiquiti Networks, a communications technology company that makes WiFi networking equipment.

"We've heard a lot of good things about him, and his intentions are all good," Conley said. "I know the city of Memphis should be excited. As a team, we are excited. It's going to be a different expectation for us, and we're just looking forward to taking it on."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.