Brian Windhorst and the Sportzshala insider team dig into life and news in the NBA world and beyond.
Last month, the NBA owners quietly took a step that could have big consequences.
A few weeks ago, the Board of Governors approved a rule change that allows sovereign wealth funds to buy stakes in teams in addition to other institutional funds such as endowments and pension funds. This change was first reported by Sportico and confirmed by Sportzshala.
This opens the door to something that has never been seen in American sports: the hand of a foreign government buying the league. Such investments are not allowed in other major US leagues – at least not yet.
Under the newly adopted policy, a foreign fund could buy up to 20% of the team. Any such deal would be subject to serious scrutiny, league sources said. The situation is reminiscent of the nine-month approval process the NBA went through with former Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov before he became the first foreign majority owner in 2009.
The new guidelines limit sovereign wealth funds, which are widespread in the oil-rich countries of the Middle East, to so-called “passive” ownership, which means they cannot become controlling owners for now. This is a significant change in position. And it came right after the NBA first held pre-season games in Abu Dhabi in October, an event that now has a more transparent primary purpose.
The league also recently opened a physical store in the United Arab Emirates, a relatively small but symbolic choice for expanding relationships there.
Currently, the global sports team market is overflowing with expensive real estate. The Los Angeles Angels are up for sale. The American-owned English football clubs Liverpool and Manchester United are up for sale. Washington commanders are for sale. And, of course, the Phoenix Suns too.
When these major brand franchises find buyers in the near future, there will likely be a record streak of sales. Sovereign funds are being considered as possible bidders in one or both of the English football teams. And the NBA is signaling that it can follow suit.
With the team’s value potentially reaching historic levels – league officials believe a potential sale to the Suns would break the $3 billion barrier – the reality is that there could be a smaller pool of individual buyers at those price points, the team’s sales consultants told Sportzshala. .
Interested billionaires remain in such a market. There was a group of bidders willing to go for the $4 billion mark for the recently sold Denver Broncos, and none of them were Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who has since been linked to a possible Commanders bid. There were also several American groups bidding to take over Chelsea Football Club, which was sold for over $5 billion to a group led by Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Lakers co-owner Todd Boly.
But to keep the value of the franchise going up, the NBA knows it may have to look to richer companies. It’s one of the central missions of Commissioner Adam Silver, who has made finding new sources of income a central part of his ten-year tenure.
Silver was a trailblazer when it came to the gambling space. He announced the change to the NBA’s longstanding stance against sports betting in an op-ed in The New York Times more than three years before the Supreme Court ruled to legalize it. He was the first among major sports to offer teams to sell ads for patches on jerseys.
And the NBA was the first to allow private equity funds to buy teams. The opening of that window in 2020 brought about a shift as dozens of partial team owners liquidated their shares as their value soared. Three NBA-approved foundations – Arctos Sports Partners, Dyal Homecourt and Sixth Street – own parts of seven different teams. Two funds, for example, own about a quarter of the Sacramento Kings. Last year, Arctos paid over $400 million for an 8% stake in the Golden State Warriors, increasing its share of the team to 13%.
Now Silver and the NBA are aiming to be the first American league to tap into the ocean of sovereign wealth, a segment that has boosted the value of European football clubs.
Funds from the Middle East have poured billions into football teams for the past 15 years or so. Abu Dhabi led the way, having funded the purchase of English club Manchester City in 2008 following royal family member Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. Sovereign funds and their various subsidies have been buying stakes in teams across the continent since the Qatari royal family acquired Paris football giant PSG in 2011.
Last year, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the purchase of English club Newcastle United and the support of LIV Golf, which saw some of the world’s best players drop out of the PGA Tour with huge guarantees. Now, the Saudis are reportedly chasing the 2030 World Cup.
The Qatar Investment Authority is actively involved in global football ownership and is funding the current hosting of the World Cup. The Kuwait Investment Authority and holding company Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, are also investing in sports and are rumored to be looking for more.
There are currently no sales to sovereign wealth funds that are under consideration by the league, the sources said. But the league and its owners are not doing this out of nowhere, they have a reason.
Working with pension funds and endowments is not new territory. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan has been the primary owner of the Toronto Raptors for 14 years, and the team is now primarily owned by two media companies. The New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, and Philadelphia 76ers were all owned by corporations (the Knicks are still owned, though they are owned by MSG Sports, which is controlled by the Dolan family).
Whether this marks the beginning of a new era of NBA ownership, as it has been in European football, cannot be determined at this time. But there is no doubt that this move opens the door to a new world of near-infinite money.
NBA reporter Tim Bontemps catches up with the Miami Heat, who exude confidence despite their place in the standings:
Eric Spoelstra: ‘Our records are probably misleading’
The Heat are two games under .500 after Monday’s 101-93 loss to the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies. But this is not felt in the dressing room, where confidence is maintained.
Last season, the Heat were in doubt for most of the year, even though they were at the top of the East standings, and were considered underdogs until the last moments of Game 7 of the Conference Finals, when only Jimmy Butler missed a 3-pointer kept them out of the final. .
So the judgment about their sluggish start did not take root.
“You should think about it,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said with a smirk. “We were number 1 in the East [last season]and people didn’t even pay attention to us.
“Then being where we are now, they definitely don’t talk about us.”
The “now” Adebayo was talking about came an hour after Miami’s overtime win over the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics last Friday. Despite some ups and downs so far, faith has radiated from the Heat since this victory.
“We never lost confidence in this band, in ourselves,” Butler said. “We know what we are capable of. We just need to go out and prove it. We don’t worry about anyone else, just the guys in the dressing room and the coaching staff, ownership, management. go, but we can get there.”
None of this means that this Heat team is perfectly built. Caleb Martin (6’5″) has had a solid career for himself, but his use as Miami’s starting power forward left the Heat vulnerable to an advance.
They suffered quietly from the loss of big man Omer Yurtseven, forcing Duane Dedmon to play a much more important role. Victor Oladipo, who the Heat thought was fit enough to sign a one-year, $11 million deal last summer, has yet to play a game due to injury.
Butler missed seven games with knee pain before returning on Friday to take the win, Lowry had to take on a huge workload and the Heat still hadn’t replaced PJ Tucker.
And for those who doubt this team has what it takes to be a factor, look no further than Monday night. After two weekends between games without Ja Morant, Desmond Bain, Jaren Jackson Jr. and John Konchar, among others, in Memphis, the Heat dealt with the Grizzlies, which was far from the follow-up that Miami wanted. .
But there are reasons why Miami has consistently won through character rotation for over a quarter of a century. He still has team president Pat Riley. He still has a coach, Eric Spoelstra. It still features Butler, Adebayo, a resurgent Lowry, and Tyler Herro, a quartet that Spoelstra has called the “Miami Big Four.”
And after having their presumed starting XI take to the court for just the eighth time this season on Friday in Boston, the Heat are still convinced in their hearts that if they’re healthy during the playoffs, they can take on anyone. .
“Our records are probably fooling everyone on the outside,” Spoelstra said. “[But] we have something good going on.”
Here is the Warriors reporter Kendra Andrews about the team’s amazing two-way savior:
Like a lion, like a lamb
Anthony Lamb did not participate in the pre-season trip to Japan with the Warriors. He didn’t even know he made the team until a couple of days before the start of the season, he signed his fourth two-way contract in less than two years.
But as the Warriors looked for solutions for their early season as they started the season 3-7, Lamb became an unexpected but important part of the defending champion roster. The undrafted Vermont wing has since become one of the league’s best start-of-season stories.
Coach Steve Kerr first went to Lamb out of necessity. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were minute capped and then, three games into the season, Donte Di Vincenzo pulled out with a hamstring injury that kept him out for eight games.