Long Island City may have squandered its opportunity with e-retail giant Amazon, but Brooklyn has its main competitor, Alibaba, and if they can say ‘Open Sesame” to the doors of a National Basketball Association championship, all of New York City’s roundball riches and legacy will come through the borough.
That after Alababi Co-Founder Joe Tsai this week officially acquired full ownership of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center. With the closing of the transaction, Tsai becomes NBA Governor of the Nets and its affiliates and Chairman of Barclays Center.
“With full ownership of the Nets and Barclays Center, we will continue to bring our exciting brand of basketball to our fans,” said Tsai. “We’ve made a strong commitment to Brooklyn and it will be a privilege to present the best of Barclays Center with its great entertainment to our community.”
Tsai, who bought the team from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, is inheriting a team that surprised many last year finishing above .500 last season with a 42-40, and making the playoffs as the Eastern Conference 6th seed before losing to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.
However, in the offseason, the Nets acquired – two of the NBA’s biggest stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. And while Durant is recovering from a serious injury, media reports have reported him up and walking without a limp.
In gaining ownership of the team, Tsai also gave a vote of confidence to Nets General Manager Sean Marks and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson.
“Sean and Kenny have done an extraordinary job building the team. They established the culture, developed talent that others couldn’t see, and made Brooklyn the place where the best players want to play,” said Tsai. “We have an incredible group of players who want to win, and because of their talent and hard work, we are now in a great position to compete. I am thrilled to be partners with winners.”
Tsai did make his first official hire in naming media and sports executive David Levy as Chief Executive Officer of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center.
Levy will also serve as the President of J Tsai Sports, the sports investment and holding vehicle controlled by Tsai. Additionally, Levy will join Tsai’s family office as a venture partner, with coverage of sports, media and entertainment investments globally.
In his role as CEO of the Nets and Barclays Center, Levy, who has more than a 30-year career working with the NBA, will oversee all business, revenue, strategy and operations for the franchise and arena.
“David brings a unique combination of sports and media know-how, strategic thinking and operating skills to our sports and entertainment business. He is an entrepreneur at heart with the experience of managing and scaling organizations, and I really look forward to working with him,” said Tsai.
“I am excited and honored to join the Nets organization and look forward to working alongside Joe and the talented forward-thinking executives and team members across the entire organization,” said Levy. “Sean Marks and Kenny Atkinson have done a terrific job instilling a winning culture and I am looking forward to supporting them as we build a sustainable foundation of success on and off the court. I am excited for our fans and can’t wait to get started.”
Long regarded as one of the most influential media and sports executives, the well-respected Levy spent 32 years at Turner Broadcasting, the last six years as President of the company. In his role as President, Levy had oversight of Turner’s leading portfolio of brands and businesses, including TNT, TBS, Turner Sports, Bleacher Report, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and truTV, as well as Ad Sales and Distribution.
During his tenure, Levy was instrumental in expanding Turner’s sports media rights with a number of leagues and organizations, including the NBA, MLB, PGA of America and UEFA. In 2012, he led the efforts for Turner to acquire Bleacher Report.
Under his direction, Turner successfully expanded its relationship with the NBA beyond traditional television rights. In 2014, he negotiated a nine-year media rights agreement between Turner and the NBA that encompassed a broad spectrum of platforms including television, digital, sponsorship activation and other ancillary events.
Additionally, he was instrumental in helping build strong franchises with Turner’s widely-regarded ‘NBA on TNT’ and the Emmy-Award winning ‘Inside the NBA’ studio show. In 2008, he developed a joint venture with the NBA for Turner to manage the league’s digital portfolio, which includes NBA TV and League Pass.
The Nets kick off their 2019-2020 regular season at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Oct. 23.