Finally: Will Smith Among Philadelphia 76ers New Owners
Tuesday is a big day for NBA basketball fans in the city of Philadelphia. CSN has learned that a press conference called for Tuesday morning at the Palestra by the Sixers will introduce their new ownership led by multibillionaire Joshua Harris, who went to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. (CSN and CSNPhilly.com will air the press conference live at 11:30 a.m.)
Last week, the NBA Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve the sale from Comcast-Spectacor to Harris’ group. Harris is one of three co-founders of Apollo Global Management, a private equity group.
“My partners and I are thrilled to have become owners of the Sixers,” Harris said in a statement released by the team Tuesday morning. “It is an honor to become part of this storied franchise. We have a lot of work to do, but we have a rich history, a strong foundation and a bright future.”
The group includes numerous investors, including Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. “West Philadelphia born and raised,” Will was born in Wynnefield and attended Overbrook High School.
Another Philly native, Adam Aron, a graduate of Abington High School, Harvard College and Harvard Business School, has been named the franchise’s CEO. Aron served as the chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts until 2006 before forming and holding the same title for the consultancy, World Leisure Partners, Inc.
“Being named CEO of the Philadelphia 76ers is truly a dream come true,” said Aron, who also will serve as an Alternate Governor of the NBA. “Having grown up in Abington, I have always been a fan of this team.”
The new ownership will be limited in what it can say about its new investment given that the NBA does not allow anyone who works for a team or owns a franchise to discuss any players or the current state of the lockout.
While the Sixers are introducing the new regime, federal mediator George Cohen will be overseeing talks between the full bargaining committees for both the owners and players in an effort to end a lockout that began on July 1.
NBA Commissioner David Stern has indicated that if the two sides don’t have major movement from Tuesday’s session then his gut tells him they will not be playing NBA basketball on Christmas Day, the first big national television day of the season. That day is supposed to feature a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals between Dallas and Miami.
Cohen met with each side individually on Monday at their respective New York offices and he has been in contact with the two sides for several months.
The entire exhibition slate and first two weeks of the regular season have already been canceled. The Sixers were scheduled to play seven games in the regular season’s first two weeks.