If as they say it takes a village to raise a child, just how many owners do you have to have to keep an NBA basketball team afloat?
New Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera apparently figures it'll take as many partners as there are dishes on a Chinese menu.
He is the man with the plan who vows to firmly cement the bond between the Memphis community and its NBA team into the future.
"Memphis as a city, it's unbelievable!," he said during a news conference Monday morning at FedExForum. "The people have been great. I can tell the community's really special."
They are among more than a score of limited ownership partners, spanning the fields of business, athletics and entertainment, the 34-year-old Pera has handpicked to serve as a pro sports franchise version of his own "knights of the roundtable."
"I think we've got an all-star lineup of owners," said Jason Levien, Grizzlies CEO. "I mean, how lucky are we have that support in the community and we have these business leaders who are behind us. I think we can be wildly successful because of them."
If Monday's humongous news conference introducing the previously reclusive new Grizzlies owner to the local public, provided any insight into his management style, it's that it's definitely not going to be an "all about me mentality."
A soft-spoken Pera appeared much more comfortable sitting back as Levien, his chosen CEO for the ownership group, spent most of an hour gushing over those who signed on as partners to make the commitment to taking the franchise to a higher level.
Pera's enthusiasm already has provided a refreshing change from former owner billionaire Michael Heisley who over the last few years could have printed the words "let's make a deal" on all his business cards.
"He looks at it, as No. 1, he loves basketball. No. 2, he's been very attracted to our city and to the Grizzlies," said Pitt Hyde, minority owner. "So, I think this is going to be a wonderful long-term partnership.
"I think they come in with the mindset that they're not limiting themselves to a small market team," added Elliot Perry, minority owner. "I think that's what we're excited about. Bringing people to the table who are smart, excited about doing something different."
"Ways in which we can help the digital divide that exists not only around the country, but in Memphis, between communities that have access to broadband and this digital universe and those that don't," added Harold Ford, Jr.
Hyde and Perry, two of the original local investors, found themselves tightly nestled in among the other limited owners on hand, including Steve Kaplan, who is the ownership group's vice-chairman.
Not in attendance were such notables as Memphis native Ashley Manning, who'll be the league's only woman owner, and entertainer Justin Timberlake, who Pera convinced to sign on.
"Robert and I spent time with Justin when he was filming a movie down in Puerto Rico this summer, and was so warm and so excited to be involved," Levien said. "He's a big NBA fan, obviously loves Memphis and loves the Grizzlies."
While Pera and the owners are hoping the good times will continue to roll for a team now considered a bona fide NBA contender, what happens if the team's finances get a little tight? Can Pera count on a "little help from his friends?"
"Robert is the first line of defense and the person who stepped up and said he's going to take responsibility if there are losses, before the other owners step in and participate as well," Levien said.
"It's just like the team on the court. When you get 13 basketball players all from different backgrounds, all from, you know, sometimes they play together," added Steve Ehrhart, minority owner. "Sometimes they don't pass the ball into the post. I think it's the same process. If you can achieve good communications and good chemistry you've got a great successful situation."
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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