Dodgers sold to Magic Johnson's group for 2B

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Dodgers sold to Magic Johnson's group for 2B

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- One Los Angeles institution is buying another. A group that includes former Lakers star Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten agreed Tuesday night to buy the Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record 2 billion. The price would shatter the mark for a sports franchise. Stephen Ross paid 1.1 billion for the NFL's Miami Dolphins in 2009, and in England, Malcolm Glazer and his family took over the Manchester United soccer club in 2005 in a deal then valued at 1.47 billion. Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, would become the controlling owner. The deal, revealed about five hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three finalists for an intended auction, is one of several steps toward a sale of the team by the end of April. It is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court. "I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles," Johnson said in a statement. As part of the agreement, the Dodgers said McCourt and "certain affiliates of the purchasers" would acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including its parking lots, for 150 million. "If they invested that much money, I'm sure they'll invest to get us a winner," said Tommy Lasorda, the Dodgers' retired Hall of Fame manager. "I wish them all the luck, and I admire them. I know both of them. I know Magic from the day he came into Los Angeles as a basketball player for the Lakers." The acquiring group, called Guggenheim Baseball Management, has several other investors, among them Mandalay Entertainment chief executive Peter Guber, Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton, who operates oil and gas properties among his investments. Kasten is the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals. "I am truly honored to have partnered with such talented individuals and to be associated with the Dodgers organization," said Walter. "We look forward to building upon the legacy of the Dodgers and providing long-term stability to one of the most revered franchises in baseball." The 52-year-old Johnson played 13 seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships and three MVP awards in a Hall of Fame career. He retired from the NBA in 1991 after being diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He briefly came out of retirement during the 1995-96 season and had a short stint coaching the Lakers. Since leaving basketball, he has been very successful in business, investing in movie theaters, a production company and restaurants. He has also been an activist in the fight against HIV. "I'm upset he didn't cut me in," current Lakers star Kobe Bryant said. "I'm going to have to talk to him about that." McCourt paid 430 million in 2004 to buy the team, Dodger Stadium and 250 acres of land that include the parking lots, from the Fox division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., a sale that left the team with about 50 million in cash at the time. The team's debt stood at 579 million as of January, according to a court filing, so McCourt stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars even after a 131 million divorce payment to former wife Jamie, taxes and legal and banking fees. Kasten is expected to wind up as the team's top day-to-day executive. The other two finalists were: -- Stan Kroenke, whose family owns the NFL's St. Louis Rams, the NBA's Denver Nuggets, the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids. He also is majority shareholder of Arsenal in the English Premier League. -- Steven Cohen, founder of the hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors and a new limited partner of the New York Mets; biotechnology entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong; and agent Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group. It remains to be seen whether Major League Baseball will challenge the deal in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, where the case is before Judge Kevin Gross. Under an agreement reached by MLB and McCourt in November, a private auction was to be held among the finalists and McCourt was to select the winner by Sunday. The sales agreement is to be submitted to the bankruptcy court by April 6, ahead of a hearing seven days later, and the sale completed by April 30, the day McCourt is to make a divorce settlement payment. "This agreement with Guggenheim reflects both the strength and future potential of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and assures that the Dodgers will have new ownership with deep local roots, which bodes well for the Dodgers, its fans and the Los Angeles community," McCourt said in a statement. The acquiring group would gain the ability to sell the Dodgers' local broadcasting rights starting with games in 2014. The Guggenheim group likely would use money gained from the rights sale -- or from the team's own network with outside investment -- and use those funds to pay down the acquisition debt. "The amount of leverage is a big question," said Marc Ganis, president of the Chicago-based consulting firm Sportscorp, which is not involved. "The likely scenario is that they have a broadcasting deal in mind so that they pay up now and pay themselves down from a big broadcasting upfront payment. "The problem with this strategy is that the more paid upfront by the broadcast deal, the less money is available for team operations. The more debt they take on, the more debt service is required, the less money that's available for team operations. With the only beneficiary being the man walking out the door. A challenging result that baseball tried to avoid." The current record for a baseball franchise is the 845 million paid by the Ricketts family for the Chicago Cubs in 2009. The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in late June, just days before the team was expected to miss payroll. The filing came after baseball Commissioner Bud Selig refused to approve a 17-year agreement between the Dodgers and Fox's Prime Ticket subsidiary that would have been worth 2 billion or more. MLB feared McCourt would use about half of an intended 385 million cash advance to fund his divorce. Los Angeles finished third in the NL West last season at 82-79, had just three sellouts and fell short of 3 million in home attendance in a full season for the first time since 1992. There was some concern among MLB officials about the financing of the Walter bid because some of the money was coming from insurance companies that are owned by Guggenheim. A person familiar with the baseball owners' teleconference Tuesday said several team owners voiced that during the call. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because MLB did not make any announcements. "The problem there is a fundamental problem as you go into an auction, and that is the absolute reliance on other people's money," said Ganis. "It means a lot of regulators. It means either shareholders or, depending on which insurance companies it's coming from, the insured themselves." Kasten was hired as legal counsel of the Braves and the NBA's Hawks in 1976, and three years later became the NBA's youngest general manager at 27. He was promoted to president of the Braves and Hawks in 1986 and also became president of the NHL's Thrashers in 1999. After leaving the Atlanta teams in 2003, he became president of the Washington Nationals from 2006-10. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti recently had dinner with Kasten in Glendale, Ariz., the team's spring training home. "He's very successful, very driven, relentless in his pursuit of excellence," Colletti said. "He's seen a lot and he's won a lot." The Dodgers have won six World Series titles but none since 1988, when they were still owned by the O'Malley family that moved the team from Brooklyn to California after the 1957 season. Fox bought the team in 1998, then sold it to McCourt. Colletti, whose baseball moves appear to have been constricted because of the team's financial problems, says the sale announcement brings "clarity." "It's time to turn the page and move toward a new chapter in the history of the Los Angeles Dodgers," he said.

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

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AP

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK — Russell Westbrook moved past Oscar Robertson and kept right on going to the top of the NBA.

Westbrook was voted MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles during his historic season. He led the league with 31.6 points and added 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists per game, joining Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season and breaking Robertson's single-season record of 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

"I remember growing up just being home, playing the video games and stuff with my pops, and my mom sitting there and my brother and just talking about maybe one day I could be the MVP. Obviously I was joking at the time," Westbrook said.

"But now to be standing here with this trophy next to me is a true blessing, man, and it's an unbelievable feeling, something that I can never imagine."

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

He received 69 first-place votes and 888 points from a panel of 100 media members and a fan vote to easily beat Houston's James Harden, who had 22 first-place votes and 753 points. Kawhi Leonard was third with nine first-place votes and 500 points.

Westbrook succeeded Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards. The point guard who plays with defiance on the court got choked up during an acceptance speech in which he brought some teammates onto the stage with him.

The Thunder went 33-9 when he had a triple-double, riding Westbrook's record run into the playoffs in their first season after losing Kevin Durant to the Golden State Warriors.

"Oscar, guys like him, Magic Johnson, those guys, obviously I wasn't able to see those guys play, but just to look back at history and see the things that they did, it's something that I looked up to as a kid," Westbrook said.

"I never thought I would be able to say that I broke Oscar Robertson's record, and that's just a true blessing."

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era, beating out Philadelphia's Dario Saric and Joel Embiid.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

"Obviously I'm just proud of the team and the way they responded all year. Great organization," D'Antoni said of the Rockets' 55-win season.

"This is not an individual award. This is a lot of people, a lot of hard work goes into it, and I'm the recipient of some pretty good players."

In his first season coming off the bench, Gordon set a single-season record with 206 3-pointers by a reserve. He averaged 16.2 points to help fuel the Rockets' run to the surprising No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and edged former NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala of Golden State by 32 points.

Golden State's Draymond Green won the Defensive Player of the Year, ending Leonard's two-year run. Leading the league in steals from his do-everything role with the NBA champions. He had a franchise-record 10 steals in a Feb. 10 game at Memphis while recording the first triple-double in NBA history without scoring in double figures, adding 11 rebounds and 10 assists.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.

Draymond Green named 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year

Draymond Green named 2016-17 Defensive Player of the Year

Two days after Draymond Green said, in the wake of the Warriors winning the NBA Finals, that he no longer cared about the Defensive Player of the Year award, he got it anyway.

And he was very happy about being the first player in Warriors history to win it.

After finishing in second place in the balloting in each of the past two seasons, Green received the top honor Monday night during the NBA Awards Show from New York, beating out fellow Rudy Gobert (Jazz) and Kawhi Leonard (Spurs). Leonard topped Green in each of the past two seasons.

Green received 73 of the 100 first-place votes, totaling 434 points. Gobert received 269 points, including 16 first-place votes. Leonard received 182 votes, 11 for first place. The three finalists accounted for all 100 first-place votes.

Green posted impeccable overall statistics, leading the league in steals (2.03 per game) for the team that led the league in that category and averaging 1.39 blocks, as the Warriors also led the NBA in that category.

The 6-foot-7 forward finished third the NBA in defensive rating and second in defensive win shares, largely due to his ability as an irreplaceable force on that end of the court. Though Green starts at power forward, he spends considerable time at center -- while also playing point forward on offense.

Yet Green, smiling during his acceptance speech, also pointed out the work of his teammates, particularly Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, as the Warriors led the league is nearly every significant defensive category.

“This isn’t an individual award,” Green said. “There are five guys out there on the floor at a time. I can’t do this all by myself, so I appreciate them. With KD and Klay not making the All-Defensive team, I appreciated everything they do.”

Green earlier Monday led the media balloting for the NBA’s All-Defensive team, racking up 198 of a possible 200 points. He was voted to first team on 99 of 100 ballots yet completely omitted from one ballot.

If you want a splashy number, try this: Opponents shot 27 percent against Green when he switched a pick-and-roll and activated one-on-one defense, according to good folks at Synergy Sports Tech.

Green, who finished fourth in real plus-minus, averaged 10.2 points and 7.9 rebounds. He also led the Warriors in assists, averaging 7.0 per game.