Will Smith Rumors
The Sixers didn’t know that actor Will Smith, a Philadelphia native and part owner of the team, was going to address the players at a dinner in Center City on Monday night until he walked into the room. Noel admitted he was starstruck. “Man, that’s one of my idols,” Noel said. Noel said Smith gave the players advice about dealing with the media, handling their day-to-day duties and discussed the favorite and least-favorite movies in which he’s starred.
If Will Smith could pull it off, why not Russell Westbrook … right? Russ stole the show at Dorell Wright’s ’90s-themed charity event in L.A. this weekend — rocking the overalls, no shirt, gold chain, pink hat and glasses look … with an ugly yellow jacket to match.
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.”
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.