Nets Rumors: David Levy Bought out as CEO over Role in Basketball Operations

Blake SchusterCorrespondent IIIMay 7, 2020

FILE - This is a May 16, 2018, file photo showing then-Turner Broadcasting President David Levy attending the Turner Networks 2018 Upfront in New York. The Brooklyn Nets have a new owner and a new CEO. Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai completed his purchase of the team and Barclays Center on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, then announced that he had hired former Turner Broadcasting President David Levy to oversee both. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Evan Agostini/Associated Press

More details are beginning to emerge from the short tenure of former Brooklyn Nets CEO David Levy earlier this year.  

After team owner Joe Tsai hired Levy in September, the executive was bought out hardly three months later in November.

Per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News, the split occurred because Levy wanted more control over basketball operations. 

Bondy reported multiple sources said a clause in Levy's contract gave him "influence" over basketball decisions, which upset plenty on the Nets staff who immediately began pushing back. 

Levy originally joined Tsai after his run as president of Turner Media following AT&T's acquisition of the property. In announcing Levy's new role with the team, the Nets noted he would oversee business, revenue, strategy and operations—leaving basketball-related matters out of his tasks. 

The hiring was part of a turning point for the franchise which had just landed Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant over the offseason and was preparing to become a perennial title contender.

That may still happen, but it won't be because of Levy. 

In speaking with Sopan Deb and Kevin Draper of the New York Times shortly after he stepped down, Levy made clear there were multiple issues that led to his departure.

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"It wasn't one thing," Levy said. "It just wasn't the job I signed up for. I wish I could say it was this or that, but it wasn't what I signed up for."

The former CEO told the Times the split was mutual, though the statement released by the Nets explains Levy was not on the same page as the rest of the team.

"As we enter an exciting next chapter of our organization, it's important that ownership and management are completely aligned on our go forward plan," the statement read, per Deb. "We are proud of the culture of the Brooklyn Nets under the leadership of General Manager Sean Marks and Head Coach Kenny Atkinson, and we look forward to continue bringing the best experience to our fans."

Neither Levy nor the Nets responded with a comment to Bondy. Atkinson stepped down as head coach in early March, reportedly due to friction with Irving. 

Brooklyn continues to search for its next full-time chief executive.