Brown, Cunningham anticipated Sixers sale

Posted: June 09, 2011

Former 76ers coach and president Larry Brown said he wasn't surprised by Tuesday's news that Comcast-Spectacor was deep in negotiations to sell the franchise.

Brown said he believes it's a decision Comcast-Spectacor chairman and CEO Ed Snider "has been weighing for quite a while."

"I have some friends who are close friends with Ed," said Brown, most recently the head coach of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. "I don't think Mr. Snider wants to do anything [halfway]. . . . I would imagine in this time of his life, if he wasn't able to give 100 percent, he'd rather have somebody else do it."

There are still obstacles and some back-and-forth negotiating before any deal is finalized, sources said. They put the time frame for completion at longer than a week, but Comcast-Spectacor is poised to sell the franchise to a group of investors led by New York billionaire Joshua Harris.

The deal would be a 90 percent share of the franchise for about $280 million. The Sixers then would become a tenant at Comcast-Spectacor's Wells Fargo Center.

Snider would retain control of the Flyers, his NHL franchise.

"I don't think it's really a surprise to . . . anybody I know," said Sixers legend Billy Cunningham, who coached the Sixers when they won the 1983 NBA title. "There were rumors for years they were possibly selling the team. I know I heard it."

Cunningham coached through an ownership change. In 1981, Harold Katz bought the Sixers from Fitz Dixon.

"I was very fortunate from a coaching standpoint when Harold bought the team," Cunningham said. "He had one goal - to put out the best team possible on the court. And his goal always was to win a championship."

Brown said he felt similarly supported during Snider's tenure.

"I never felt Mr. Snider wasn't heavily engaged," said Brown, who coached the Sixers to the 2001 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games. "I know he loved the Flyers, but he was always there for us and me."

Brown said that if the new owners are committed to producing a good basketball product, the city would embrace them.

"I think if a new owner comes in here and is committed like Mr. Snider, they will be well-received," Brown said.

Workouts continue

Despite the uncertainty clouding the business side of the franchise, on Wednesday the basketball operations continued with business as usual by holding two predraft workouts. Sources have insisted that business negotiations will not interfere with basketball operations.

The team holds the No. 16 and No. 50 picks in the NBA draft, scheduled for June 23.

At the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, the Sixers held back-to-back workouts: the first with four draft prospects, the second with five.

The discussion, despite the elephant in the room, remained strictly basketball.

The morning workout involved four big men: Keith Benson (Oakland), Justin Harper (Richmond), Nikola Vucevic (Southern Cal), and Jordan Williams. The afternoon workout featured forwards and guards: Jordan Hamilton (Texas), Scotty Hopson (Tennessee), Malcolm Lee (UCLA), Josh Selby (Kansas), and Chris Singleton (Florida State).

Because the Sixers are almost certainly in the market for a big man, the most important prospect present on Wednesday could have been the 6-foot-10 Vucevic, originally from Montenegro by way of the University of Southern California.

The Sixers also interviewed Vucevic at the NBA draft combine in Chicago.


Contact staff writer Kate Fagan at kfagan@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/DeepSixer3, and

read her blog, "Deep Sixer," on Philly.com.

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