Later tonight, the Memphis Grizzlies play the Utah Jazz in the home opener for the Grizzlies. As exciting as that is for the Grizzly Nation as well it should be, the most important news of the day came earlier today when the Grizzlies introduced new chairman and majority owner Robert J. Pera.
Pera, 34, once was an engineer with Apple and founded Ubiquiti Networks in 2005, a multinational firm that manufactures wireless communication products. He is one of the ten youngest billionaires in the world according to Forbes Magazine. In June, he was head of a group of investors that purchased the Grizzlies from 75 year old Michael Heisley for around $350 million. The price also includes the FedEx Forum, where the Grizzlies play their home games. The group also includes minority owners Justin Timberlake and Peyton Manning. The NBA board of directors approved the sale on October 25 and Pera held his introductory press conference at 10:00 AM CST today according to Grizzlies.com the team’s official website.
When asked about the sale, Pera was quoted as saying “The Grizzlies are here to stay in Memphis. We are thrilled to assume ownership of the Grizzlies. We see enormous potential and understand the role the Grizzlies play in bringing Memphians together. We are committed to building a winning team with a best-in-class organizational culture, finding new and creative ways to engage with our fans, and making a positive and meaningful difference in the community.”
There were some rumors and/or concerns during the summer that Pera might move the Grizzlies to his home town of San Jose, California but those rumors are unsubstantiated. Pera seemingly addressed those with his statement, but Clay Bennett said the same thing when he purchased the Seattle Supersonics several years ago. He would later relocate the franchise to his home town of Oklahoma City and rename them the Thunder.
In Monday’s press conference, Pera introduced Jason Levien as the CEO and managing partner of Memphis Basketball, LLC, the company that owns and operates the Grizzlies. Levien was a former part owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and worked in the front office of the Sacramento Kings before that. He is also the co-owner of Major League Soccer’s DC United. Levien is also a former sports agent and currently is a law professor at the University of California-Berkeley.
“Jason and I share a vision for building a world-class team on and off-the-court,” Pera said. “He has my complete trust, confidence and support in how best to lead our organization’s efforts.”
“I’m honored to be part of such a dynamic and potential-filled opportunity here in Memphis,” Levien said. “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.”
The Grizzlies appear to be in good hands with Pera and Levien and look to continue the success of recent years. The ultimate goal, of course is to bring an NBA Championship to the city and it’s rabid fans.