Reports: Tsai Close To Purchasing Full Ownership Of Nets At Record Price

Ryan Chatelain
August 14, 2019 - 2:55 pm
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Tech billionaire Joseph Tsai is on the verge of purchasing full ownership the Brooklyn Nets, according to multiple reports.

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Tsai, who co-founded the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, bought a 49% stake in the Nets in 2017 for $1.1 billion, a deal that included an option to take control of the team four years later. It now appears he will do that two years early.

Tsai, 55, is expected to close the deal to buy the remaining 51% from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov this week, the New York Post first reported. The total price, which includes the earlier minority-stake purchase, would be $2.35 billion, making it the most money ever paid for a sports team, surpassing the $2.2 billion spent for the Carolina Panthers last year and the Houston Rockets in 2017.

The part of the deal reportedly being finalized this week would have to be approved by the NBA Board of Governors.

Joseph Tsai with his wife, Clara Wu Tsai
Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Lincoln Center

A separate deal is expected to be completed that would allow Tsai to buy the Barclays Center, the Nets' arena, ESPN reported.

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In February, Forbes ranked the Nets as the sixth most valuable team in the NBA at $2.4 billion -- and that was before they became the talk of the NBA this summer by signing prized free agents Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Last season, the team went 42-40 and reached the playoffs for the first time in four years. Despite their success on the court and playing in the league's biggest market, they ranked last in the league in home attendance with an average of 14,941 fans per game.

Tsai was born in Taiwan and attended high school at the Lawrenceville School in New Jersey and college at Yale University, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees. He played lacrosse and football in high school and is an avid NBA fan.

Earlier this year, an investment group led by Tsai purchased the WNBA's New York Liberty.

Prokhorov bought an 80% stake in the then-New Jersey Nets in 2010, moved the team to Brooklyn in 2012, and took full ownership in 2015.