Sixers minority owner Michael Rubin is selling his stake in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the Sixers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania of The Athletic, and Yaron Weitzman of FOX Sports.
Rubin’s stake in the Sixers is just 10%, but he’s considered an influential figure in the team’s ownership group due to his relationships with the players, including Philadelphia stars Joel Embiid and James Harden.
Rubin is the CEO of the sports retail business Fanatics, which is branching out into sports gambling. That represents a conflict of interest for Rubin, who has no interest in buying a stake in another team as a result.
“When we first bought the Sixers, Fanatics was only in the merchandise business,” Rubin said to Weitzman. “Now we have the trading card business and the gambling business. By the end of the year, we’ll have individual contracts with thousands of players, and I’ll be taking bets on the Sixers. … No one came to me and said, ‘Hey, Michael, you need to sell.’ It was clear based on these businesses (that) we have no choice but to sell.”
The sale of Rubin’s equity in the Sixers is expected to close “imminently,” according to Charania.
Even though he’ll no longer be an official part of the 76ers’ ownership group, Rubin will continue to be “a presence courtside and a key partner in our collective commitment to be a force for good in Philadelphia,” team governor Josh Harris said in a statement.
“I’ll probably go to less games, but when there’s something going down that’s massive, I’ll stop what I’m doing to help,” Rubin told Weitzman. “That’s who I am. That’s what I like doing. I consider Josh and (co-owner David) Blitzer to be family. I consider Joel and James to be family. And I look at (president of basketball operations) Daryl (Morey) and (head coach) Doc (Rivers) the same way. I have a lot of investment in the group and will do whatever I can to help those guys in whatever small way I can.”
As Charania and Wojnarowski observe, Rubin could potentially exert more influence on behalf of the Sixers as a “super-fan” than he could in his minority ownership role, since he’s no longer prohibited from talking to players on other teams or entering into outside financial partnerships with 76ers players.
Rubin told Weitzman that he believes the Sixers are “really well-positioned” going forward, particularly since he expects Harden to be healthier and more comfortable in his first full season in Philadelphia.