Sports exec also had stake in Nets, MSG

Updated: August 11, 2004, 11:01 PM ET
Associated Press

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Alan N. Cohen, the former co-owner of the Boston Celtics and New Jersey Nets and chairman of Madison Square Garden, has died. He was 73.

Cohen died Tuesday at his home, Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said.

It was nearly 21 years to the day after Cohen, Don Gaston and Paul Dupee submitted an offer sheet to buy the Celtics from then-owner Harry Mangurian, The trio owned the team until 1992, when it was sold to Gaston's son, Paul.

The team expressed sadness at Cohen's passing, noting his accomplishments while part of team ownership in a statement. During Cohen's tenure, the Celtics won their last two NBA titles, in 1984 and 1986.

Cohen was instrumental in signing Larry Bird to a 1988 deal that paid the future Hall-of-Famer more than $7 million in 1991-92, a league record at the time.

Before his involvement with the Celtics, Cohen was chairman and CEO of the Madison Square Garden Corp., owner of the New York Knicks and the NHL New York Rangers. He also owned an interest in the New Jersey Nets.

As professional teams sought more ways to generate revenue, Cohen developed the idea of placing revolving advertisements courtside at NBA games.

In the 1970s, Cohen was part of a group that owned the New York Cosmos, the North American Soccer League franchise that gained international prominence by signing soccer superstar Pele.

Cohen was born in Passaic, N.J., on Dec. 19, 1930. He graduated from Columbia College in 1952 and Columbia Law School in 1954. After serving in the Army, Cohen began his career in law and entertainment.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press