New Bucks owners make themselves at home at BMO Harris Bradley Center
Gallery: Bucks sold for $550 million
Sneakers squeaked on the refurbished court inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center, children pushing basketballs up near the rim as Scott Williams and the Bucks staff conducted a kid's camp.
Wesley Edens leaned against the side of the stands of the BMO Harris Bradley Center, a white merchandise bag dangled from his free hand, a red "Bucks" logo shining through the plastic.
Marc Lasry couldn't help himself, though. He shed his overcoat, put his merchandise bag on a folding chair, and took the court. He grabbed a Bucks ball, and put up a shot from the top of the key.
Edens looked on, at the children, the arena. At home.
A new era, a new generation of NBA basketball, began Wednesday afternoon when Herb Kohl introduced Lasry and Edens as the new owners of the organization.
The NBA has to formally approve their $550 million bid later this week in league meetings, but it is expected to go through without issue. The pair also committed at least an additional $100 million toward the construction of a new facility. Kohl gifted the same amount, despite retaining no ownership stake in the team.
Edens still couldn't believe it.
"It's unprecedented," he said.
It took such an effort, and desire on Kohl's part, to keep Milwaukee one of just 30 cities in the United States to call the NBA home.
"This is a game changer for this entire debate," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
Edens and Lasry are billionaires based out of New York. Edens is principal, founder and co-chairman of the board of directors of Fortress Investment Group LLC and Lasry is the chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Avenue Capital Group.
Lasry also has minority ownership stake in the Brooklyn Nets, which he will have to divest himself of before the sale can become official.
Both men said they will be visible in the Milwaukee community, and are committed to bringing championship basketball back to the city.
"We have a big vision for the Bucks, as we have in our own businesses," said Edens, whose mother grew up in Sparta. "Marc and I, we joke about being the luckiest guys in the world. We've been very fortunate in our businesses and we work very hard and have been the beneficiaries of a lot of good things and we are very, very inspired to be carrying that forward here today."
"In Milwaukee, fans deserve a winning team. This is about winning basketball games, it's about winning championships, it's about being part of the community and we look forward to all of that."
Edens and Lasry met with the entire Bucks organization privately after the press conference, and several Bucks executives said it was a positive gathering – rounds of applause could be heard in the hallways outside the room.
As far as any changes that might be made in the organization under Edens' and Lasry's leadership, Edens admitted they had not spent any time assessing the people currently in the organization, including general manager John Hammond, his staff and head coach Larry Drew.
"We'll start immediately but really it becomes in earnest once we get closed on the transaction," Edens said.
The pair hopes that the funding and design of the new stadium will be secured within "the next year or so" with it being constructed "in a couple years" and called that a reasonable timeline for that process to be completed.
"They're young, they're energetic, they're successful, they're ambitious, they're determined to make this succeed," Kohl said. "I think that is making a crucial difference in getting to where we need to get, in staying here for years and years and also – as they suggested – in winning a championship. That's very important."
After putting up a jumper – and after his kids did, too – Lasry collected his coat and his own merchandise bags before he, Edens and their families filtered off the court.
"We actually believe in all of this," Lasry said. "We want to build a great team. We want to build a great arena. And you're going to find that we're going to spend a big, big chunk of our time here in trying to do that."
GOOD NEWS: Team is sold!!!! BAD NEWS: it's staying in MKE.
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