Grizzlies pick Jason Levien as CEO

Updated: November 5, 2012, 2:17 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

New Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera announced on Sunday that Philadelphia 76ers minority shareholder Jason Levien is joining the Grizzlies as the club's new CEO and managing partner.

Levien, who recently sold his stake in the Sixers to join Pera's ownership group, will be in charge of Memphis Basketball, LLC, which operates the Grizzlies and the FedExForum arena. Levien will oversee the NBA team while acting as the ownership group's managing partner and an alternate NBA governor.

"Jason and I share a vision for building a world-class team on and off-the-court," Pera said in a statement. "He has my complete trust, confidence and support in how best to lead our organization's efforts."

Sources told ESPN.com that the former NBA agent and front-office executive with the Sacramento Kings will have the ultimate say on personnel and on-court matters, overseeing Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace and coach Lionel Hollins. Hollins is in the final year of his contract after back-to-back trips to the playoffs.

"I appreciate what a special role the Grizzlies and FedExForum play in the Memphis community, and I know that we will build successfully on the foundation already in place," Levien said.

Pera and Levien will be at a news conference Monday, along with other members of the new ownership group in Memphis, to talk about their plans for the Grizzlies.

Levien was part of the Joshua Harris-led group that purchased the 76ers leading into the 2011-12 season. Levien, in addition to his new post operating the Grizzlies, will continue in his role as general partner of DC United in Major League Soccer, which he assumed in July when he and fellow Sixers minority owner Erick Thohir purchased the MLS club.

The sale of the Grizzlies to a group headed by Northern California tech magnate Pera was unanimously approved last month for the reported purchase of $377 million.

According to sources, that Levien took a lead role in assembling a star-studded ownership consortium which includes actor/singer Justin Timberlake as well as Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and wife Ashley. Timberlake and Ashley Manning are native Memphians, as are two more prominent minority owners in Pera's group: Former NBA All-Star Penny Hardaway and former Congressman Harold Ford Jr.

Pera is the 34-year-old former Apple engineer who left the computer giant in 2005 to start a communications technology company (Ubiquiti Networks) specializing in WiFi networking equipment. Pera was named to Forbes' list of the world youngest billionaires in 2011 and splits his time between San Jose and Taiwan.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics