Memphis Grizzlies Sale: Young New Owner Will Infuse Energy into Stale Team

Eric BallFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2012

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The Memphis Grizzlies are about to be a bit more fun.

Get used to the name Robert J. Pera, a 34-year-old billionaire from California who’s attempting to purchase the franchise.

Current majority owner Michael Heisley has announced his intentions to sell the team to a group that is led by Pera. ESPN’s Marc Stein reports the deal will be for $350 million.

Heisley subtly hints that the future will be very bright because of Pera’s age and the size of his wallet (via Fox Sports):

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.

Pera is going to bring a fresh perspective to the team. The 75-year-old Heisley has had heart surgery recently and said in the Fox Sports interview that he doesn’t want to make tough decisions from a hospital bed.

I’m not here to criticize Heisley, but it was time for a change. He wasn’t involved in the day-to-day operations as much as in years past, and he sounds like a guy who is ready to begin the next phase of his life.

He has helped turn the team around, and now it’s Pera’s job to figure out if Rudy Gay and Zach Randolph can co-exist together. With a deep pocket book, money will not be an issue. He will bring a fresh and unique mindset to a position in the NBA that is typically reserved for older guys who are just looking to add another asset to their portfolio.

Pera made his fortune as the founder of Ubiquiti Networks Inc. after working as a wireless engineer with Apple before that. He’s a tech billionaire and is going to bring plenty of smiles to fans faces in Memphis. His unique and ambitious thinking allowed him to depart his lucrative job with Apple to become his own boss and the results were aces.

What sort of outside-the-box ideas can he come up with for an NBA team?

He won’t be moving the team to another city, and he seems to genuinely love the sport, playing it roughly four to five times a week. He is a true fan but isn’t a Mark Cuban type who loves to be in the spotlight. In fact, he rarely talks to the media and seems to be more concerned with a winning product.

Coming off a 41-25 season where the team sold out every home game, the passionate fans are there, and Pera will certainly reward them by spending as much money as he can under the salary cap.

While it will take the NBA 60 to 90 days to officially confirm the deal, as long as there aren’t any sudden changes, this is now Pera’s team, and the franchise is better off for it.

It’s an exciting time to be a Memphis Grizzlies fan. Sounds weird doesn’t it?