HoopsHype Joshua Harris rumors

February 17, 2012 Updates

On Doug Collins: "I think that Doug is as talented and passionate about basketball as anyone I’ve ever met. He brings vast knowledge, passion and he definitely gets a lot (from the players). Just being in the locker room and seeing the way the players react and play together as a team you almost get the feel that we have a college team where they’re enjoying themselves out there and that likes each other and wants to win. I don’t think you always get that feeling from a pro team." Philadelphia Inquirer

January 30, 2012 Updates

The Sixers say they are selling 4,000 tickets a day. They're up to 23rd in average attendance, at 14,614 per game, and if that doesn't sound impressive, they were 29th two weeks ago. The announced attendance Saturday against the lowly Pistons was 18,710, though it looked like there were a couple thousand fewer in the stands -- though 16,000 to see a bad Detroit team on a Saturday would still be pretty good. They had a walkup crowd at Wells Fargo of 2,600 on Jan. 10 -- a Tuesday -- to see the Kings, a development so stunning they had to scramble to find enough ticket sellers to handle the rush. Television ratings on Comcast SportsNet are up to an average 2.5 rating locally, up from a 1.6 average rating last season. And Aron has been the face of the work that has gone into saturating the local media, fan base, corporate crowd and anyone who'd listen that this is a team worth supporting. "He's the hardest working guy I've ever been around in my entire life," Collins said, and he knows from hard workers. NBA.com

Aron, 57, who went to Harvard, went the corporate route -- Hyatt, United Airlines (he helped the naming rights deal for United Center in Chicago), Norweigian Cruise Lines, Vail Resorts. He's helped run companies where the experience of what you did was more important than anything. You don't take pictures and videos of your workplace; you take pictures and videos of your vacations. So he knows fans don't just want to watch a basketball game; they want to be entertained. (If this sounds like Mark Cuban Philosophy, that crossed my mind, too.) "I think in Philadelphia, I don't think it's lack of interest," said Lara Price, the 76ers' longtime Senior VP of Business Operations. "You have to have that connection with them, and you have to have that interaction with them. And the thing I've noticed is that Adam has connected with them the way Pat did -- emotionally -- with them. And they feel like he's listening. And that's not to say we didn't listen before, because I've been with every ownership group. We listened ... but it's new. And combined with winning, it's kind of like lightning in a bottle." NBA.com

The basketball, of course, still matters. The Sixers have been dominant at home, playing an exciting, up-tempo style. Collins has insisted that the team play like one; on any given night, any of six or seven guys could be the leading scorer. They're fifth in the league in points per 100 possessions, at 105.3. They are tied with the Bulls for stingiest defense, allowing just under 87 points per game, and are tied for second in lowest field-goal percentage allowed, .418. They are first in the league in fewest points allowed per 100 possessions, at 92.3 per game. Jrue Holliday and Jodie Meeks are becoming an effective if unheralded backcourt; Andre Iguodala, playing his usual all-around game but averaging just 12.8 points per game, is nonetheless poised to make his first All-Star appearance if the team keeps winning at this rate. Such are the rewards for teams that do well. The fans have been appreciative. "I think they're more active in the games," Iguodala said. "If we get down, they stick with us a little bit. Whereas last year, you might have had some boos, even though we were still in the game. This year, even if we go through a spurt where we don't score, we might be down and the other team goes on an 8-0 run, they're still in there with us, which is a good thing. There's been a few times where we've made a big play, and they really, just like, erupted. And it gave us some momentum and we were able to finish out the games." NBA.com

January 29, 2012 Updates

Josh Harris, the new owner of the 76ers, is happy sitting center court at almost every home game. He has the best seat in the house, and why shouldn't he? He is a billionaire and, as he sees it, he made his fortune buying companies at just the right time - down-and-out outfits, in need of a fresh approach - just like he has done with the Sixers. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than smart. In the Sixers' case, nearly all the key ingredients to success were already in place - great coach, nucleus of solid young players. The lockout scared other potential buyers away. Harris got in, infused the franchise with energy, re-signed two key players, and, so far, the team is winning. "It's exceeded all expectations in terms of the fun I'm having," Harris said. "I've become an überfan. I haven't missed a minute of any game. I haven't gone to all the away games, but I've been to nearly all the home games, and I have a league pass, and I have whatever you need to see every game." Philadelphia Inquirer

Harris says he's falling back in love with Philadelphia, his college town, and promises to be the kind of owner fans will want him to be: committed to winning a championship. "Will we spend what it takes?" he said. "Yes. We're going to be very opportunistic. We're not going to be silly about it. We have a deep-pocketed ownership group, and we want to win. It's not as easy as you think. The elite players in the league can play wherever they want, and everyone wants them." He said the challenge is to build a "high-quality organization on and off the court," to create a team and environment that will attract elite players, similar to the way pitcher Cliff Lee chose to come to Philadelphia and play with the Phillies. Philadelphia Inquirer

Harris, 46, is cofounder of Apollo Global Management, an investment firm and buyout specialist in New York that manages more than $60 billion in assets. His personal worth is estimated by Forbes magazine to be about $1.45 billion. He agreed to talk about his purchase of the team at an interview at the Four Seasons, at the same breakfast table where he first kicked around the idea with Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, the former majority owner of the Sixers. He ordered a fruit plate - ate the berries, left the cantelope. Harris wrestled in high school and for part of his time at the University of Pennsylvania. "There was a lot of dieting involved, and I was wrestling at 118 pounds, and that was a long way to drop," Harris said. "It was definitely cutting into the college experience." Philadelphia Inquirer

Harris described his business this way: "What we try to do is we take money from institutional investors - teachers and firefighters and ordinary people's pension funds. It's simple: They give us a dollar and they want to get back more than two dollars over a five- and seven-year period. We're supposed to create long-term equity value for these pension funds, and that's what we do. We do that by buying good companies and facilitating value creation. "That can be in some cases growing the company. In some cases that can be making a good deal on the way in, buying a good company inexpensively, buy low and sell high. It can be improving the company's cost structure, making it more efficient, investing in it. There are plenty of ways to do it. But to create that kind of value, you have to change something." Philadelphia Inquirer

What about criticism that Romney is facing, that Bain Capital killed companies, destroyed jobs? "Ultimately, yeah, basically, there definitely are situations where you can create value through making companies more efficient," he said. "Sometimes that means that jobs are downsized. But really, we live in a competitive world, and to make a company successful globally, sometimes that needs to be done. "And ultimately, really, the beneficiaries are the normal local firefighters, teachers, policemen, and people like that. I think over time, in any election, this will be positioned one way or another. But I feel good about what I do in terms of being good for the country." Philadelphia Inquirer

January 19, 2012 Updates

David Stern was in the Wells Fargo Center last night, and before he took his seat with 76ers majority owner Joshua Harris to watch the Sixers' overtime loss against the Denver Nuggets, he addressed the media about the state of the NBA and the Sixers. "It's fun to be here," said Stern. "It's always good to be in a place where a team is undefeated at home and the team is in first place." Philadelphia Inquirer

November 21, 2011 Updates

Sunday afternoon the hardwood was down at the Wells Fargo Center for friends of 76ers owner Joshua Harris to enjoy. Harris had a gathering at the sports arena following his running of the Philadelphia Marathon. It was the third time Harris has embarked on the 26.2 mile trek, but his first in the City of Brotherly Love. Harris completed the run in a new personal best time of 3 hours, 48 minutes. “The time is probably too important to me,” the 46-year old explained. “I ran my first marathon in 4 hours, 20 minutes, my second in 3:53 and my third in 3:48. So yes, it is important to me; it means a lot.” It meant a lot, too, that Harris could run a marathon in the city he once called home. “I decided once I made the investment in the Sixers that I love running and so I chose the Philly marathon because it would be a nice way to connect with the city,” Harris said. “Or reacquaint myself with all the areas and people.” CSNPhilly.com

November 17, 2011 Updates
October 19, 2011 Updates

The new owners were unable to address any issues about players because of the ongoing NBA lockout, although did announce that they had let go general manager Ed Stefanski and laid the brunt of the day-to-day basketball operations on president Rod Thorn and head coach Doug Collins. Aron said the management is "moving 100 miles an hour on all fronts and we will be ready with something fabulous" when the lockout ends. Philadelphia Inquirer

"You can be assured that we are interested owners and focused," Harris said. "Behind the scenes, there will be lots of debate about what we do with players, but at the end of the day, Rod is the captain of the ship. We were lucky enough to buy the third most winning franchise, a storied franchise at a time when we think we were able to get an appropriate deal . . . "The team has been less connected with its fans and as a result wasn't generating revenue and selling tickets as we think it can do. It wasn't realizing its potential. There are lots of things we can do by improving the financial situation of the team, connecting with fans, making it a great experience and we have to win. We have a team and executives very capable of doing that." Philadelphia Inquirer

October 18, 2011 Updates

So maybe the new owners of the Philadelphia 76ers, a partnership group led by buyout financier Joshua Harris, are banking on the distressed economy and the ongoing N.B.A. lockout makes this a good time to buy distressed property. The deal, which started in April, with Comcast-Spectator, was approved by the N.B.A. Board of Governors and completed Monday. The terms of the sale were not disclosed. The new ownership group, which includes minority partners such as rapper/actor Will Smith and his wife, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, is not wasting time making changes during their first day in charge: General Manager Ed Stefanski has been fired, ticket prices have been slashed, and a new team slogan was unveiled during a Tuesday press conference in Philadelphia. Harris announced Rod Thorn will be staying as team president, and Doug Collins remains as head coach. “We were lucky enough when we bought the team to have two fantastic people doing one job,” Harris said. “We are going to stay with Rod. There are no current plans to replace Ed.” New York Times

The 76ers' new ownership team includes one of the city's favorite sons: Will Smith. Sources with knowledge of the sale agreement told ESPN.com that the ownership group that will be introduced later Tuesday includes Philly native Smith as a minority shareholder. The presence of Smith in an ownership consortium headlined by New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris, David Blitzer and former NBA agent and Sacramento Kings executive Jason Levien means that the Atlantic Division now houses two giants from the entertainment industry. Named by Newsweek in April 2007 as the most powerful actor in Hollywood, Smith joins the Sixers in a capacity akin to music mogul Jay-Z's role with the New Jersey Nets. And Levien is believed to be the first former agent to be part of an NBA ownership group since Lewis Schaffel served as the original managing partner of the Miami Heat. ESPN.com

The NBA announced early Tuesday that its owners had unanimously approved the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers to New York-based investor Joshua Harris. Word that Harris had bid to purchase the Sixers from Comcast-Spectator broke last spring, with a deal worth a reported $280 million being reached in July. The sale approval comes in a quite odd time for the league, as the NBA lockout has been underway for 109 days. Another team, the Atlanta Hawks, is reportedly working through the sale process, albeit on a different timeline than the Sixers. Comcast's sale of the Sixers represents a 57 percent return on an initial investment made in 1996. The Sixers made one NBA Finals trip during that span, in Allen Iverson's heyday. SB Nation

The 76ers have issued a release stating they have a "major announcement" they will make tomorrow at The Palestra. As reported at the end of last week, Comcast-Spectacor's sale of the Sixers has been approved by the NBA's Board of Governors. Tomorrow's announcement will be the introduction of the new ownership group, led by New York billionaire Joshua Harris. Harris and his investment group have purchased the Sixers for approximately $280 million. Terms of the sale were agreed to in July and have been pending the NBA's approval since. Philadelphia Inquirer

October 17, 2011 Updates

A source with close ties to Comcast-Spectacor says that the deal to sell the Sixers to a group led by billionaire Joshua Harris has been completed. The deal reportedly received approval from the NBA Board of Governors late last week and they dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s Monday. Philly Sports Daily

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