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SPORTICO: NETS TO NAME FORMER MSG EXECUTIVE TEAM PRESIDENT

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2019 NHL Club Business Meetings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Sportico reports that John Abbamondi, who left MSG in January after four years, will be named president of the Nets, a job last held by David Levy. Levy, former head of Turner Sports Media, had a short stint as CEO last year before he and Joe Tsai had a falling out. Levy had replaced longtime CEO, Brett Yormark.

Officially, the Nets had no comment on the report but team insiders confirmed the news to NetsDaily.

According to Scott Soshnick, Sportico’s editor-in-chief...

Madison Square Garden Co. executive John Abbamondi will be named president of the Brooklyn Nets, people familiar with the matter told Sportico.

Abbamondi most recently was the executive vice president of ticketing, suites and hospitality at MSG, overseeing the New York Knicks and Rangers, until he left the post in January.

Brian Lewis reports that Abbamondi was “let go” by MSG...

Before his time at the Garden, Abbamondi worked for the NBA in its Team Marketing & Business Operations office which has produced three NBA team presidents. He was primarily responsible for boosting team profitability.

The Oklahoma native also has experience in major league baseball, working for both the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals. He is a protege of Moneyball advocate Billy Beane. In between earning degrees at MIT and Stanford, Abbamondi served as a US Navy fighter pilot who flew 40 combat missions over Iraq.

In 2018, Sports Business Daily called Abbamondi a “power player” and described him this way...

Abbamondi carries one of the largest portfolios of any ticketing executive in the industry, overseeing sales and service at one of the country’s most famous and visited arenas for MSG’s entire collection of sports and entertainment properties, including the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers. Abbamondi has been long thought of as an industry thought leader and also honed his collection of best practices during a prior stint in the NBA’s team marketing and business operations unit.

In an earlier profile, SBD noted he has a broad range of interests outside his job, even traveling to Greenland to run a marathon. Here’s what SBD wrote about his resume before he joined the NBA...

An undergraduate degree from MIT. A decade as a Navy flight officer, with 40 combat missions flown from aircraft carriers off the southern coast of Iraq. An MBA from Stanford. Three years as an economist in the labor relations department at Major League Baseball, at that time headed by eventual baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred. Three years on the baseball side as an assistant general manager with the St. Louis Cardinals. Two heading up business analytics for the San Diego Padres.

It’s uncertain from the Sportico story how broad Abbamondi’s responsibilities will be. Levy was hired to run BSE Global, parent company for Tsai’s New York sports properties including the Nets, Barclays Center and the Liberty, and play a role with Blue Pool Capital, Tsai’s investment vehicle. Tsai and Levy reportedly clashed on whether had a role in basketball operations.

Since Levy stepped down, Oliver Weisberg, who runs Blue Pool Capital and is the Nets alternate governor. Back in May, Tsai said he expected to focus more on the business side of his sports properties.

“[N]ot just with the Brooklyn Nets, we also own the New York Liberty,” he told Stanford engineering students via Zoom. “I own an indoor lacrosse team called the San Diego Seals in San Diego, spending more time really digging into the business of sports because I’m fanatical about sports but the business side is fascinating as well. So i’d like to spend some more time there.”

Meanwhile, Brian Lewis reports that Tsai has also made a change at the top of the New York Liberty. Keia Clarke, the Liberty’s long-time Chief Operating Officer, has been elevated to Chief Executive Officer, the traditional top position in an business.

“I’ve wondered why most WNBA teams don’t have a CEO. It’s obvious Keia Clarke should be CEO of the NY Liberty. She’s smart, thoughtful and a great leader of people,” said Tsai.

“Keia brings deep experience and thoughtful perspective to the team. She is a great partner,” said Clara Wu Tsai, the Liberty’s co-owner. “I look forward to working with her to raise the profile of the Liberty and contribute to growing the WNBA.”

Clarke was instrumental in planning the Liberty’s strategic move to the Barclays Center, the Tsais noted. The team most recently played its games in Westchester County and by moving back to an NBA-quality arena, Clarke restored the team’s presence in New York City and positioned it for a broader fan base from the City’s five boroughs.