Jun 12, 2012, 1:13 PM EDT
The announcement was not a shock — Michael Heisley has been looking to sell the Memphis Grizzlies for a few years now, he has gone down the road more than once only to turn back for various reasons.
But the announcement that he was selling the team to young tech billionaire Robert Pera was unexpected. It’s not going to be immediate — the league has a review process that takes a couple of months then must be voted on by the other owners — but the sale is going to happen short of some unexpected revelation.
Heisley told Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida that his health and age issues are what caused him to make the move now.
“I have stepped aside from my companies,” Heisley, who has been looking to sell the team before, said in an interview with FOX Sports Florida about why he’s selling now. “I’m 75 years of age. I had a couple of medical problems this year (with his heart). I thought the team was in good shape. Fan base was in good shape. I thought if the opportunity presented itself, I would sell the team….
“It’s very bittersweet,” Heisley said of selling the team. “I love Memphis …. I’ve spent a huge amount of money to make the team successful there …. I did it because I love basketball and I love the city of Memphis and the people there, and they’ve treated me fantastic. I have nothing but wonderful feelings …. I’m 75. My son (Michael Heisley Jr.) is not interested in going to Memphis and running the team. So, obviously, at some point it was going to have to be done. And, quite honestly, I thought it was my job to get it done rather than leave it to my heirs.”
There were concerns that Pera might try to move the team, but the Grizzlies have a basically iron clad lease for nine more seasons (until 2021). This team is not moving, not soon anyway.
Pera is reportedly an avid basketball fan who plays a few times a week, and that is the case he should be a good owner. Grizzlies’ fans hope better than Heisley.
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