"He has always had a soft spot in his heart for Philadelphia," the source said.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources have said the deal is for about $280 million. The Sixers were valued at $330 million, 17th in the NBA, earlier this year by Forbes.
According to a statement announcing the deal, "the team will remain a long-term tenant of the Wells Fargo Center and will have a long-term cable broadcast agreement for its games with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia."
The sale does not involve the arena or the Flyers.
A source close to the negotiations said the deal is for 100 percent of the organization, contrary to previous reports that Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider would retain a financial stake.
"We are honored to have the opportunity to be affiliated with the storied franchise," Harris, 46, said in a statement. "As a basketball fan who attended college in Philadelphia, and with family roots here, I have always felt a strong connection to this city and the 76ers. We look forward to helping the 76ers organization build on this past season's accomplishments in the years ahead. The ownership group also looks forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Comcast-Spectacor."
A spokesman for Harris said that he would have no further comment until the deal becomes official.
An NBA spokesman said there was no timetable for when the sale could be approved. The league will thoroughly look at the prospective owners and their financing. Typically, though, the timetable has been about 2 to 3 months.
"While today we have reached an agreement to sell the team, the deal still must have the approval of the NBA's Board of Governors," Comcast-Spectacor spokesman Ike Richman said. "We will refrain from making any comments until the sale is approved."
Among the investment group is David Blitzer, of the London office of the Blackstone Group; Jason Levien, a former sports agent and executive with the Sacramento Kings; and Art Wrubel, a portfolio manager at New York-based Wesley Capital, a hedge fund company with mainly real estate interests. Wrubel's name had not been mentioned in previous reports.
Blitzer, 41, a senior managing director and co-chairman in the private equity group, is a magna cum laude graduate from the Wharton School at Penn. Wrubel is also a Wharton graduate.
"We are excited to become associated with this iconic team and to have the chance to serve the great City of Philadelphia and its loyal basketball fans," Blitzer said in a statement.
Harris, who is worth an estimated $1.2 billion, according to Forbes, is co-founder of Apollo Global Management Group, but the transaction involves his personal fortune. Blitzer also is making a personal investment into the team.
Sixers president Rod Thorn has met with Harris and the investors, and also had a conversation with Levien in the days leading up to the June 23 draft. The Sixers selected USC forward/center Nikola Vucevic with the 16th pick.
Rumors have swirled that the Sixers were ready to trade Andre Iguodala to Golden State, the Clippers or Portland, but that the new management squashed any deal. Not true, Thorn said last night.
"No, not at all," he said. "We [Thorn and Levien] talked a couple of times before the draft about different personnel in the days leading to the draft."
The Sixers will change hands for the fifth time in franchise history. They have been owned by Comcast-Spectacor and Snider since 1996.
Changing ownership is nothing new to Thorn, who will be starting his second season with the Sixers after a long career in the same capacity with the New Jersey Nets.
"This is my fourth time I've been involved in a sale of a team," he said. "All of them so far have been different. As owners, everybody has different ideas how they want to set things up and run things. Until that transpires you just don't know until it actually happens. In my conversations with Mr. Harris he seemed to be interested in continuing to grow the team."
It will be interesting to see just how Harris and his group will go about that and what the future could be for current executives.
Coach Doug Collins improved the Sixers by 14 wins to 41 in his first season, led the team to the playoffs, and has gained the absolute trust of his young team. The next step should, and probably will include Collins, who has 3 years remaining on his contract.
Thorn still has 2 years left on his contract and general manager Ed Stefanski, who hired Collins, has 1 year remaining on his deal.
But until the sale is approved by the league and the lockout, now in its 14th day, is settled, perhaps no one will exactly know what changes are in store.
For more Sixers coverage, read the
Daily News' Sixers blog, Sixerville, at
Follow him on Twitter at