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Nets CEO John Abbamondi resigns suddenly

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

John Abbamondi, who was hired in July 2020 by Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, to run their Brooklyn sports holding company, including the Nets, has resigned, BSE Global announced in a surprise press release Tuesday.

The resignation as Jabari Young, CNBC’s sports business reporter, tweeted, was a complete surprise to the media ... as well as many inside the organization.

Sports Business Journal’s Mark Burns later tweeted that another executive was also leaving BSE Global. Chris Insolera, Vice President of Global Partnership Sales, announced on Linkedin today his departure. No word on whether the moves are related.

Joe Tsai and Abbamondi offered praise for each other in the announcement of the CEO’s departure. There is no indication that Abbamondi is moving on to a new position, although Tsai noted, “We appreciate John’s help in ensuring a smooth transition for his successor, and we are excited about the future of BSE Global.”

Abbamondi was hired in July 2020, a year after Brett Yormark resigned as CEO with the transition from Mikhail Prokhorov to Tsai. In the interim, David Levy, former head of Turner Sports, held the job for two months. Oliver Weisberg, who is an alternate Nets governor and head of Tsai’s private investment vehicle, Blue Pool Capital, served as interim CEO until Abbamondi was hired. Abbamondi and Tsai said the veteran sports and entertainment executive will stay on until July.

The timing of the announcement adds to the mystery surrounding the resignation and transition. Such moves are normally announced in a sport’s off-season.

Besides Abbamondi, the Nets have two alternative governors, Weisberg and Sean Marks. Abbamondi has been responsible for leading the overall business strategy and operations for BSE Global, which includes the Brooklyn and Long Island Nets, Barclays Center and the NBA2K gaming crew. The Liberty’s CEO, Keia Clarke, reports directly to the Tsais. As CEO, Abbamondi, a former US Navy fighter pilot and MSG executive, been in charge of “advancing the company’s existing sports, media and entertainment businesses as well as identifying and executing on new opportunities for growth.”

Tsai praised Abbamondi for his work..

“We are grateful for John’s leadership and many contributions to our organization. John has demonstrated tremendous heart and expertise in guiding BSE Global through the challenges of the pandemic. During his tenure, the Brooklyn Nets set franchise records for attendance, ticket revenue and sponsorships. We appreciate John’s help in ensuring a smooth transition for his successor, and we are excited about the future of BSE Global.”

And Abbamondi praised Tsai as well.

“I want to thank Joe, Clara and Oliver for the opportunity of a lifetime. I am humbled to have had the privilege of leading BSE Global during such a challenging period, and to have been part of the organization’s strong business performance over the course of the last two seasons. BSE Global is on a solid foundation and is positioned for continued success. I am grateful for the support of my management team and honored to have worked with such a dedicated group of professionals.”

The Nets also cited a long list of Abbamondi’s accomplishments, starting with his efforts on behalf of the community and fans.

Under his leadership, Barclays Center was able to support the Brooklyn community through the challenges of the pandemic by serving as a food distribution center, a polling location for the 2020 General Election, and a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site. When New York State allowed fans to return to Barclays Center in limited numbers during the 2020-21 NBA season, the Nets quickly became one of the NBA’s team leaders in ticket and sponsorship revenues.

During Abbamondi’s tenure, the Nets announced multiple groundbreaking new partnerships including international marketing and jersey patch partner Webull and ticketing partner SeatGeek. The Nets organization took innovation to the next level by launching new video for fans, the Netaverse, alongside technology partner Canon and broadcast partner YES Network. The team, which is in its 10th season at Barclays Center, is expected to more than double its ticket and sponsorship revenues from pre-pandemic levels.

With Abbamondi at the helm, Barclays Center also implemented a host of fan-friendly upgrades, including Crown Club, widely regarded as the finest premium dining experience in professional sports; the American Express Shop, New York City’s first contactless arena shopping experience; and Brooklyn Market, a food hall showcasing minority- and women-owned Brooklyn restaurants. Abbamondi also oversaw BSE Global’s efforts to benefit Brooklyn’s diverse community, including launching the company’s Supplier Diversity Program and SkillBridge initiative for military veterans.

The Nets said a search for a new CEO will begin “immediately.”