Board of Governors gives unanimous OK

Originally Published: August 11, 2004
Associated Press

The NBA Board of Governors on Wednesday unanimously approved the sale of the New Jersey Nets to an ownership group that plans to move the team to New York.

The league expects the sale to the group led by Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner to close next week.

"What was only an idea less than a year ago is quickly becoming a reality," Ratner said in statement released after the approval.

Ratner and his group will pay an estimated $300 million to buy the much-traveled team from Community Young Organization.

Ratner plans to build a 19,000-seat arena that will be part of a $2.5 billion office, residential and shopping complex.

The arena, which faces opposition from area residents who might be displaced, is expected to be completed for the 2007-2008 season. The entire project is expected to take 10 years to complete.

"We're very thankful to Commissioner David Stern and the NBA's Board of Governors," Ratner said. "We are humbled by this vote and excited about the prospects of putting together a team that all Nets fans in the Metropolitan area can be proud of."

The borough has not had a major sports franchise since baseball's Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957.

Ratner has come under criticism in recent weeks for cost-saving player moves that seemingly have hurt the Nets' chances to be successful on the court next season.

All-Star power forward Kenyon Martin was shipped to Denver last month after the Nets realized that matching a proposed offer sheet by the Nuggets would force them to pay him $23 million in salary and front-loaded bonuses before the start of the season.

The moved annoyed Jason Kidd, the All-Star point guard who turned the also-ran organization into a winner after being acquired three years ago.

The Nets also cut costs by dealing shooting guard Kerry Kittles to the Los Angeles Clippers shortly after the Martin deal.

The Nets have played at the Continental Airlines Arena since the 1981-82 season. Philantropist Ray Chambers purchased the team in the mid 1990s with the hope of building an arena in Newark, N.J., for both the Nets and the New Jersey Devils of the NHL.

When the arena deal fell through, the team was put up for sale and Ratner's group bought it.

The Nets began as the New Jersey Americans in the old American Basketball Association in 1967 and played in a converted armory in Teaneck. In subsequent years, they played in arenas in Commack, West Hempstead and Uniondale -- all on Long Island -- and then at Rutgers University before moving into the Meadowlands sports complex in East Rutherford, N.J.

In a separate action, the league's governors also unanimously approved the sale of a minority interest in the Golden State Warriors to a Silicon Valley investor group led by Michael Marks.

"These transactions demonstrate the attractiveness of NBA teams to sophisticated investors, and we are pleased to welcome both ownership groups to the NBA," Stern said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press