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Joe Tsai keeps buying into U.S. professional sports leagues

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The editor of China Sports Insider, Mark Dreyer, put it succinctly in a tweet...

Joe Tsai, the Nets minority owner, is rapidly building a professional sports portfolio. So much so that “sportsman” will have to added to his more common descriptor, “co-founder of Alibaba,” the Chinese e-commerce giant. And at least one ESPN writer believes this will all rebound positively for the Nets.

Tsai’s latest foray has a familiarity for him. He played lacrosse at Yale. As Bloomberg News reports...

The upstart Premier Lacrosse League, which begins its inaugural season on June 1, has a new high-profile backer: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. billionaire Joe Tsai.

The league just closed a Series A funding round that was led by Tsai, who also owns a stake in the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets.

The 55-year-old Taiwan native and Canadian citizen already owns an indoor lacrosse team in the National Lacrosse League, the Seals, in San Diego. He and his wife, philanthropist and activist Clara Wu, have a home in La Jolla. The PLL did not release details on the financing but they already have a deal with NBC Sports Group to broadcast games, a big asset in attracting investment. The league hasn’t announced where its teams will play, reported Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick, but among those being considered include Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Vancouver. The 14-week PLL has been designed to run opposite of the NLL to avoid overlap.

Tsai, as we’ve noted before, is becoming a big thing in the NBA and New York ... as well as China. Just three weeks ago, he closed on the purchase of the New York Liberty, the WNBA team in New York. He bought the club from James Dolan and MSG Companies. His investment in the Nets, value at more than $1 billion, is even a year old.

Last October, the billionaire joined the board of directors of NBA China ... at Commissioner Adam Silver’s request, an indication of how the commissioner —and the league— see Tsai.

Just this week, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst listed Tsai’s connections with China as a potential lure for free agents.

“Soon, I don’t know the date, they will have the NBA’s first Chinese owner in Joseph Tsai who is going to be one of the richest owners in America,” said Windhorst on his podcast. “They have a chance to become the NBA’s Chinese team.“

That of course could be a windfall for players with all the endorsement possibilities afforded by China.

As to when he will take over, the “date” mentioned in reports on Tsai’s purchase of the Nets stake is the summer of 2021, when he has an option to buy control of the franchise from Mikhail Prokhorov.

Tsai has not publicly spoken about his plans for the Nets long-term, but he has voiced support for Sean Marks. He has been seen recently at Nets games with his wife. Ms. Wu also was in New York last month for the launch of the Reform Alliance, aimed at reforming the U.S. criminal justice system. Ms. Wu is a U.S. citizen, having grown up in Kansas where her father was a college professor.