- David Levy, the CEO of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, is unexpectedly “parting ways” with the organization after less than two months, J Tsai Sports said in a press release emailed to Business Insider Tuesday.
- Levy’s replacement, Oliver Weisberg, suggested in a statement that Levy did not mesh well with the Nets’ culture.
- Billionaire Alibaba cofounder Joseph Tsai took full ownership of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, he announced in a statement August 16.
- The $2.35 billion deal for the New York-based NBA team is the highest ever for a sports franchise, according to The New York Times.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The CEO of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center is unexpectedly “parting ways” with the organization after less than two months, J Tsai Sports said in a press release emailed to Business Insider Tuesday.
The Nets hired David Levy from Turner Broadcasting following Alibaba billionaire Joe Tsai’s purchase of the team and its arena on August 16, Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick reported. In a statement emailed to Business Insider, Oliver Weisberg, the current head of J Tsai Sports and Levy’s replacement, said:
“As we enter an exciting next chapter of our organization, it’s important that ownership and management are completely aligned on our go forward plan. We are proud of the culture of the Brooklyn Nets under the leadership of General Manager Sean Marks and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson, and we look forward to continue bringing the best experience to our fans.”
Weisberg’s suggestion that Levy did not mesh with the Nets’ culture comes also comes a month after the NBA and China entered a public feud. On October 4, Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted out an image that voiced support for the protests in Hong Kong, Business Insider’s Rosie Perper previously reported.
Levy also took a role in Tsai’s family office when he joined the Nets in August, according to Bloomberg. J Tsai Sports did not say if Levy will leave that post as well.
Tsai took control of the team after buying out Russian financier Mikhail Prokhorov’s 51% stake in the team for $2.35 billion in August, according to the Post. That’s the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise. The next-largest deals, Tilman Fertitta’s 2017 purchase of the Houston Rockets and David Tepper’s 2018 purchase of the Carolina Panthers, were both valued at $2.2 billion.
“I’ve had the opportunity to witness up close the Brooklyn Nets rebuild that Mikhail started a few years ago,” Tsai said in a statement August 16. “He hired a front office and coaching staff focused on player development, he supported the organization with all his resources, and he refused to tank. I will be the beneficiary of Mikhail’s vision, which put the Nets in a great position to compete, and for which I am incredibly grateful.”
Tsai also purchased Barclays Center, the 19,000-seat arena in Downtown Brooklyn that the Nets call home, he announced in the statement.
Despite being ranked as the worst team in the NBA two years ago, the Nets are expecting a 10- to 15% increase in their revenue during the upcoming season after signing Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in July, per the Post.
As Joe Barnathan at Forbes observes, the purchase creates an even wider lane for the Nets — and the NBA at large — to penetrate the basketball-hungry Chinese market. Not coincidentally, the Nets are set to play the Los Angeles Lakers in two pre-season games in China this October, first in Shanghai, then in Shenzhen.
Tsai, 55, made his fortune after cofounding Chinese online retailer Alibaba alongside the company’s chairman Jack Ma in 1999. Tsai is Alibaba’s second-largest shareholder, giving him a net worth of $9.5 billion, according to Forbes estimates.
Tsai first invested in the team in 2017, purchasing a 49% stake for $1 billion, according to the Post. That deal gave Tsai the option to purchase the rest of the team in 2020. In May, Tsai also purchased New York-based women’s basketball team the Liberty, the Times reported. The value of that deal is unknown.
Basketball teams are not an uncommon investment for billionaires. Microsoft billionaire Steve Ballmer owns the Los Angeles Clippers and cruise giant Carnival Corporation chairman Micky Arison controls the Miami Heat, Business Insider previously reported.