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New chairman says Memphis really owns Grizzlies

Associated Press Modified: November 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm •  Published: November 5, 2012
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Levien will be in charge of the ownership group operating both the Grizzlies and FedExForum reporting to Pera. The chairman said Levien — a lawyer and former agent — is one of his best friends and described him as a cross between Jerry Maguire and Ari Gold. Levien also was a team executive with the Sacramento Kings and was a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers until recently. He also is a general partner for Major League Soccer's DC United.

NBA commissioner David Stern said Monday night that Pera told league owners he would hire professionals to run the Grizzlies. The commissioner spent the day in meetings all around Memphis and said he never caught as much enthusiasm and sense of real potential as he does with the franchise right now.

"I urged to anyone who would listen let's keep the momentum going with this group and this team," Stern said. "There's no reason why Memphis shouldn't be both successful on the court but as successful a team as a business manner as any NBA franchise in a similar sized market."

The Grizzlies are coming off two straight playoff appearances. They went 41-25 last season, setting a franchise-record with their 62.1 winning percentage and were the No. 4 seed in the West last season.

"We're very fortunate because we've come into a situation we just hope we don't (mess) it up, which is a little scary," Levien said.

Levien spent time Sunday for the first time with Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins, who is in the final year of his contract. The new CEO already knows general manager Chris Wallace and even represented a Boston player when Wallace worked for the Celtics. Levien has no timetable for deciding whether to make any changes in the front office after so many months spent lining up the purchase of the team, but he said he sees a team with lots of heart and mental toughness.

This is the fourth ownership transition Wallace has been through counting Portland, Miami and Boston. The general manager said it's just life in the NBA and the Grizzlies simply need to focus on playing the rest of the season and the playoffs.

"It's nothing to fear, and you just embrace it," Wallace said.

Pera described himself as last on the bench when he took a job as an engineer with Apple out of college, and he opened Ubiquiti Networks in 2005 in California. He had been looking to buy a professional team and once had tickets for the Golden State Warriors where he first started becoming a fan of the Grizzlies.

"I stopped looking when this became a possibility," Pera said of buying the Grizzlies.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker on Twitter at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker