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Celtics sold to investor group

| Saturday, Sept. 28, 2002

WALTHAM, Mass. — The Boston Celtics, one of the NBA's original and most storied franchises, will be sold to an investment group for $360 million in a surprise deal announced Friday.

Under the agreement, which still requires league approval, the team will be passed into the hands of a group led by Boston-area venture capitalists Stephen Paglicua and Wycliffe Grousbeck , as well as Grousbeck's father, H. Irving Grousbeck , the founder of Continental Cablevision and now a Stanford Business School professor.

The group planned to buy out current owner Paul Gaston as well as the 48 percent stake in the team owned by a publicly traded limited partnership, which will continue to exist but essentially sell the new owners its stake in the team, Celtics executive Richard Pond said.

The team began selling public shares in 1986, when it won its third NBA championship in five years. Shareholders, many of whom are fans who own just a handful of shares to hang on their wall as souvenirs, have no voting rights.

Boston has won 16 NBA championships, more than any other team, and Forbes Magazine recently estimated the value of the franchise at $218 million, 13th in the NBA, and well behind the first-place Los Angeles Lakers at $403 million.

But veteran Boston sports observer Larry Moulter, former president of the Boston Garden, said the $360 million price was fair considering the new owners would get a lease on the FleetCenter and not have to pay rent.

"It's a brand name that doesn't come on the market often," Moulter said. "It's a legacy brand name."

The team is the second Boston sports franchise to change hands this year. The Red Sox were bought by a group led by Florida financier John Henry earlier this year for $700 million, including debt.

  • Charles Oakley might join Michael Jordan and former New York Knicks teammate Patrick Ewing with the Washington Wizards, a team the 17-year veteran said would make the National Basketball Association playoffs this season. The 38-year-old power forward said several teams are interested in signing him, though he wouldn't name them. He said he wants a one-year contract.

    BASEBALL

    Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez was suspended one game and fined an undisclosed amount for arguing with a strike call with an umpire in a 6-5 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 16.

  • Scott Rolen finalized his deal to stay in St. Louis, agreeing with the Cardinals on a $90 million, eight-year contract extension. The All-Star third baseman's contract includes a $5 million signing bonus and a no-trade clause that runs for the length of the deal. Part of the $90 million will be deferred.

  • Seattle Mariners manager Lou Piniella was suspended for one game by major league baseball for his base-tossing tantrum in a game last week. The suspension was scheduled to be served during the Mariners' game against Anaheim last night.

  • Cal Ripken's record-setting 2,131st consecutive game is the leading vote-getter among fans in major league baseball's most memorable moments promotion. Ripken's topping of Lou Gehrig's mark in 1995 received 151,578 votes in balloting through Wednesday, the commissioner's office said yesterday.

    BOXING

    Fernando Vargas tested positive for steroids after he lost to Oscar de la Hoya on Sept. 14, the Nevada Athletic Commission said. Vargas, who lost to De La Hoya after an 11th-round technical knockout, tested positive for stanozolol in a post-fight urinalysis, the Athletic Commission's Executive Director Marc Ratner said.

    OLYMPICS

    The Swiss capital of Bern withdrew from contention to host the 2010 Winter Olympics yesterday, after voters overwhelmingly rejected a plan to help pay for the bid. In a referendum last Sunday, 78 percent of voters in the state of Bern opposed the government loaning $5 million to subsidize the effort to win approval from the International Olympic Committee. Voters also refused to back a $10 million loan to expand ice-skating facilities in the state.

    TENNIS

    In Leipzig, Germany, Serena Williams easily reached the $585,000 Sparkassen Cup semifinals. The top-ranked Williams — who won the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open this year — beat Janette Husarova 6-3, 6-2 for her 34th victory in 35 matches.

  • Spanish left-hander Feliciano Lopez upset top-seeded Marat Safin of Russia, 7-6 (2), 7-5, in the second round of the Salem Hong Kong Open.

  • In Bali, Indonesia, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Conchita Martinez moved within one victory of an all-Spanish final at the Wismilak International.

    MOTOR SPORTS

  • Michael Waltrip won his first Busch Series pole in five years, earning the inside front start for today's Mr. Goodcents 300 at Kansas Speedway. Jeff Burton will start second.

    OFF THE FIELD

  • Miles Dabord, the brother of missing former NBA player Bison Dele, was in critical condition in a Chula Vista, Calif., hospital, a spokeswoman said. Patricia Phillips, the mother of Dele and Dabord, said Thursday she planned to ask doctors to take her son off life support. Scripps Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Monica Montano declined to say whether that had happened. She did say that Dabord was still critical. He has been in a coma since Sept. 14.

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