NBA OKs Sale of 76ers to Comcast
NEW YORK (AP) _ Pat Croce promised to resurrect the Philadelphia 76ers following the NBA’s approval of the sale of the team from Harold Katz to telecommunications giant Comcast Corp.
``I’m sitting here with my idol,″ Croce, a self-made fitness club millionaire and former 76ers trainer, said Wednesday as he put his arm around commissioner David Stern.
Stern couldn’t help but smile.
``I’m now sitting here with the president of the Philadelphia 76ers, Pat Croce,″ Stern said. ``I think he’s obviously in shape for the job. I think he’s demonstrated financial success by having amassed his own wealth. We think it’s great somebody’s willing to risk it to be involved in the NBA.″
The NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the sale and transfer of power just a month after the papers were signed.
Katz, whose 15th and final season ended with an 18-64 record, said the 76ers and Croce were a good mix.
``Pat is a good man. Pat’s hyper, off the wall. He will run a very good business,″ Katz said.
Croce’s new team just completed its sixth straight losing season.
``Everyone who really knows me knows I don’t go into this to lose,″ he said. ``I want everybody in the city of Philadelphia and the suburbs to be proud of our Sixers.″
Croce said he knows it takes a winner to boost fan support.
``How many times do you see people wearing our jackets? Our lapel pins? Our logos? You don’t see it now, but you will,″ he said.
His first major executive decision will be hiring a new general manager. Current coach and general manager John Lucas is interested only in coaching, but isn’t assured of keeping even that job.
One of Croce’s top candidates for the GM job, Orlando’s John Gabriel, took himself out of the running and said Wednesday he is negotiating a new contract with the Magic.
``Hopefully by mid-May or the end of May, we’ll have someone,″ Croce said. ``John’s going to be evaluated as the coach _ at his request. It doesn’t at all have to be someone with a Philadelphia connection. The fact some of the names mentioned do just demonstrates the prowess of basketball here.″
Katz, whose team won an NBA championship in 1983, said he wished he had gone out on a winning note. He bought the 76ers for $12 million in 1981 and reportedly will get about $120 million in the sale.
``Leaving without a winning team is my number one regret by far. Also I am really concerned about John Lucas,″ he said. ``I do think he’s going to get burned. To me, he’s like a son, a little brother.″
Katz said he didn’t have any immediate plans to return to basketball.
``In this business, you’re in it for one reason only _ to have fun,″ he said. ``And the only way to have fun is winning. What I do now is count the cash.″