May 24, 2009
According to multiple sources within the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, franchise majority owner Dan Gilbert has a tentative agreement in place to allow a group of Chinese investors to purchase a significant stake in the Cavaliers Operating Company, the entity that owns the Cavs and operates Quicken Loans Arena. The group is led by JianHua (Kenny) Huang, a Chinese businessman who has become successful by linking American and Chinese companies, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Huang and several of his partners were in Cleveland and attended Games 1 and 2 of the Eastern Conference finals this week. He sat in Gilbert's courtside box Friday night and watched LeBron James(notes) hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to even the series with the Orlando Magic at one game apiece.
"Dan Gilbert has been approached multiple times over the past few years by investors that wanted to join the Cavs' ownership group," said Len Komoroski, Cavs and Quicken Loans Arena president said in a statement. This has recently happened again. As has been done previously, we're in the process of reviewing the possibility presented to us. Beyond that, we do not feel it would be appropriate to give further comment at this time."
The Plain Dealer reported the direct impact of the move is securing the future of the franchise, which has been in a minority ownership flux for the last couple years as it loses millions in attempting to build a championship-quality team around James. It will not only mean an injection of capital but will open the Cavs to business in China. The move, which has been kept mostly secret in America, is being supported by the NBA as they have encouraged development in China.