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Blankfein Offers Billionaire NBA Owners Advice as Stern Exits

Blankfein Offers Billionaire NBA Owners Advice as Stern Exits
Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd C. Blankfein offered advice to National Basketball Association owners on domestic and international affairs as well as ideas on how to best run a business.

Blankfein was interviewed two days ago by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer as part of the league’s two-day Board of Governors meeting, which ended yesterday in New York. It was the last board meeting under the stewardship of David Stern, who is retiring and being replaced as commissioner by Adam Silver in February. The next owners meeting is scheduled for April.

“I loved it,” Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, said in an interview after the meeting. “He’s exposed to a lot of ideas, another view of the world. You can never learn enough.”

Boston Celtics managing partner Wyc Grousbeck, who took a leave of absence as general partner of venture capital firm Highland Capital Partners to run the basketball team, said owners were “all ears” when Blankfein spoke.

Grousbeck said league revenue was $2 billion when he bought the Celtics in 2002. Revenue is $5 billion now and will grow to $10 billion, he said without giving a timetable.

“You can learn from the chairman of Goldman Sachs,” Grousbeck said in an interview after the meeting, declining to offer specifics. “I learned a lot.”

U.S. Economy

That sentiment was echoed by Glen Taylor, the billionaire owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who said he operates a number of businesses internationally. He said Blankfein offered his take on where the U.S. economy is now and where it’s going.

In addition, Taylor said Blankfein spoke about the importance of investing in foreign countries, albeit cautiously. “As much as we’re concerned about our government’s involvement in our economy, it’s not as bad as foreign countries,” said Taylor, founder of closely held Taylor Corp., which describes itself as an interactive print and marketing solutions provider. “You have to look long-term.”

This isn’t the first time that NBA owners have looked to Wall Street for guidance. JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon addressed owners at their meeting in 2009.

Blankfein, according to Grousbeck, told owners that he occasionally reported to Stern when he worked as a summer associate at the law firm Proskauer Rose LLP.

“Personable and bright,” is how Stern described Blankfein back then.

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