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Former Nets’ owner Lewis Katz dies in plane crash

Jun 1, 2014, 11:07 AM EDT

New Jersey Nets owner Lewis Katz hoist the Trophy Getty Images

Lewis Katz, the owner of the New Jersey Nets during the Jason Kidd era when the team went to two consecutive NBA Finals, has died in a plane crash in Massachusetts.

Katz was best known recently as the owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Daily News and philly.com — earlier this week he and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest had spent $88 million to buy out their other partners in the media companies and take full control of the papers and online entities.

The Inquirer had details of the death.

All seven people were killed aboard the private aircraft that crashed at Hanscom Field and erupted into a fireball, authorities said Sunday.

The Gulfstream IV crashed about 9:40 p.m. Saturday as it was departing for Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey, said Matthew Brelis, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Port Authority, which operates the air field.

Katz grew up in Camden, New Jersey, and went to Temple University in Philadelphia. He made most of his money first investing in the large Kinney Parking empire then investing in the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network (YES Network) in New York, which to this day still carries the Nets games.

Katz bought the Nets in 1998 for what is believed to be $150 million and he owned the team for six seasons — but those were the best six seasons in Nets history. Well, it didn’t start out that way, the first year he owned the team the Nets won 16 games (in the strike-shortened 50 game season) and fired John Calipari after a 3-17 start. That Nets team was led by a young Stephon Marbury and Keith Van Horn. With much the same roster they won 34 then 26 games the next two seasons.

But then came Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and 52 wins and a trip to the Finals. The Nets equaled that the next season — but in both finals they ran into the Shaquille O’Neal/Kobe Bryant Lakers.

In 2004, Katz sold the Nets to Bruce Rattner — the man with the dream and plan to move the team to Brooklyn — for $300 million.

Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Katz.

  1. thekingdave - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    I really hate to correct you on a post about a man losing his life, but the Nets played the Spurs in the 2003 Finals. How does a professional such as yourself screw something so simple up?

    • crillbill - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:35 AM

      Not a lot of money in sports blogging.

    • loubearkane - Jun 1, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      thekingdave

      Dbag move

    • duhwighthoward - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:44 PM

      i have to agree with the king. I got sick of reading those idiots on yahoo’s ball don’t lie blog, so i came here. but it ain’t isn’t not much better.

  2. loubearkane - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Absolutely tragic and horrible news , prayers to all the families this affected.

    Would of been interested to know how old Lewis Katz was.

  3. trevormcnamara - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    He was 72. RIP KATZ

  4. thekingdave - Jun 1, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Loubearkane

    You’re a bag of tools

  5. raidmagic - Jun 1, 2014 at 12:53 PM

    Rest in Peace.

  6. thetooloftools - Jun 1, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    Thoughts and prayers.

    • duhwighthoward - Jun 1, 2014 at 11:42 PM

      cool name

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