Reaching the point financially where you can buy a franchise in one of the big four sports is a level we’d all love to achieve.
But apparently, in the immortal words of the great Biggie Smalls, “More money, more problems.”
And this former MLB star found that out firsthand as he recently purchased an NBA team only to now face legal issues over it.
Last month, Alex Rodriguez and former Walmart executive Marc Lore teamed up to buy a majority stake in Minnesota Timberwolves from current majority owner Glen Taylor for $1.5 billion.
The entire process has definitely been drawn out, and the official seal of approval from the NBA’s Board of Governors that would make the sale official is still weeks away.
But while the Board of Governors’ seal of approval was said to be a formality, with each day that ticks by without the sale being 100% official, that obviously leaves open the possibility that it can all be derailed at any moment.
And that certainly seems to be exactly what is beginning to transpire, as a legal battle has emerged involving the Timberwolves’ current ownership and the sale to A-Rod and Lore that has the potential to be a major issue.
According to a report from ESPN, the Timberwolves second-largest shareholder, Meyer Orbach, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis last week that alleged Taylor’s agreement to sell his majority stake in the team to Rodriguez and Lore violates the franchise’s partnership agreement.
Orbach, a New Jersey real estate mogul who owns 17% of the team, claims that the agreement fails to honor the “tag-along-rights” for minority investors in the team, which allows them to sell their interest before Taylor can sell his own.
Reports have indicated that Rodriguez and Lore will be acquiring a majority stake in the team in installments, first purchasing a 20% stake in 2021 and growing that percentage each year until they obtain a controlling stake during the 2023-2024 NBA season.
And therein lies the legal dispute – Orbach believes that as soon as the league makes the sale official, the tag-along provision is supposed to kick in immediately.
However, Taylor apparently has other opinions, and believes that because the deal is structured the way that is where Rodriguez and Lore will not obtain the controlling stake in the team until a few years down the road, the provision simply doesn’t apply.
The legal complaint filed by Orbach even goes so far as to accuse Taylor of ignoring attempts to exercise the tag-along rights, intentionally making efforts to circumvent the franchise’s partnership agreement, and making false public statements about the sale.
According to the complaint, “When Orbit [Orbach’s company] attempted to exercise its tag-along rights, Taylor not only ignored Orbit but also privately stated – contrary to his public statements – that he’s not proposing to enter into a ‘control sale’ with Rodriguez and Lore at this time. Instead, Taylor is claiming that any ‘control sale’ will be years in the future, and therefore Orbit currently does not have any tag-along rights.”
“Taylor is wrong,” the complaint continues. “Although the deal with Rodriguez and Lore was structured in a clumsy attempt to circumvent Orbit’s tag-along rights, it does not deprive Orbit of its tag-along rights. […] The tag-along rights are triggered regardless of whether control is transferred ‘in a single transaction or a series of related transactions.’”
Making matters even worse for Taylor — and more importantly Rodriguez and Lore — the complaint also revealed that despite all of the public assurances Taylor made to fans and the city of Minneapolis, there is no provision in the sale agreement requiring the team’s new majority owners to keep the franchise in Minnesota.
Put simply, this whole thing seems to be a ticking time bomb for A-Rod and Lore.
They may have reached an agreement with Taylor to buy a majority stake in the Timberwolves, but that doesn’t mean that the NBA’s Board of Governors – and apparently, now a court of law – will look past the agreement’s legal issues this complaint has brought to light.
Not to mention the fact that the Board of Governors could very well not approve of a sale that could result in the team being relocated.
A-Rod has already tried and failed miserably at buying the New York Mets almost solely because hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen has unlimited money by comparison.
And now he’s actually within striking distance of buying a professional sports franchise, something he’s been said to be looking to do since he retired from baseball, but it could all be for naught in the end.
Truthfully, even if this is all settled and the deal for Rodriguez and Lore to purchase the team does go through, it still might fall apart, as ESPN has also reported that the duo wanted to buy the Timberwolves in installments so they could have more time to get the money together to fully purchase a majority stake.
So needless to say, this entire saga – whether it lasts just a few more months until this legal battle is sorted out or until the 2023-2024 NBA season when we find out if A-Rod and Lore can actually even afford to complete the deal – is going to be interesting to watch play out.
And who knows, if it all falls apart and he loses the chance to own yet another pro sports franchise, maybe we’ll get another pathetically hilarious breakup video from A-Rod like the one he made after his relationship with Jennifer Lopez ended.
A-rod looks like he taking the breakup well…Jesus, dude. pic.twitter.com/VI0iXicDOy
— Dean Blundell (@ItsDeanBlundell) April 16, 2021
In fact, that’s literally the best case scenario for everyone not named A-Rod, so let’s hope that happens.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.