Another NBA franchise is expected to change hands soon, as Michael Heisley has reached an agreement to sell the Memphis Grizzlies to 34-year-old billionaire Robert Pera. Heisley spoke to Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida at length about why he decided to sell the team and the long-term future of the franchise. He noted that it would probably be a month or two before the NBA officially approved the sale, and said he'd make decisions on the team this summer in consultation with new ownership (Twitter links). Let's check out a few more key quotes from the current Grizzlies owner....
"Quite frankly, I’m 75. My son 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. I've had my surgery on my heart. When [you] get to be my age and things start happening, it makes you suddenly realize if you're going to make these kind of decisions you got to make them while you're healthy -- [not] from a hospital bed."
"We made it clear to anybody that came that we would like the team to stay here but we can’t make somebody stay here forever.... We still have… nine years left on a contract with the city to stay in the city. I have not yet figured how people think somebody is going to buy the team and leave. It’s going to be here for a while."
On whether he thinks Pera will want to move the franchise down the road:
"I had no discussion with this party about moving the team at all. They have not indicated that at all. That was never part of any conversation... As far as we're concerned, it's obvious they're going to basically be there for a long period of time."
On what kind of owner Pera will be:
"I think he’ll be a good owner. He’s young. He’s in his 30s. I think he loves basketball. And I think he’s financially very well off. I think he’ll be an excellent owner. But that’s a job for the NBA to decide."
On the experience of owning the Grizzlies:
"I love Memphis. Outside of basketball and in basketball, I’ve done a heck of a lot. I’ve spent a huge amount of money to make the team successful there. I didn’t do it because I’m a special person. I did 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."