Tsai unanimously approved as new owner of Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets have a new owner after billionaire businessman Joe Tsai completed his takeover of the NBA franchise (AFP Photo/Ethan Miller)

New York (AFP) - Alibaba Group co-founder and executive vice-chairman Joe Tsai, a Canadian-Taiwanese billionaire, has been unanimously approved by NBA owners as the new owner of the Brooklyn Nets.

Backing of the NBA's board of governors was the final step to complete the deal, worth a reported $3.5 billion, for Tsai to buy the club and its arena, the Barclays Center.

Tsai had invested in the Nets in October 2017 when he purchased a 49 percent stake in the club from Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov for $2.3 billion with an option to buy the rest of the franchise no later than 2021.

Tsai exercised that option last month and will now oversee a revitalized club that made the first major off-season player deal this year by landing two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kevin Durant and star guard Kyrie Irving.

"We are thrilled that Joe Tsai is becoming the principal owner and governor of the Brooklyn Nets," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

"In addition to being a passionate basketball fan, Joe is one of China's preeminent internet, media and e-commerce pioneers and his expertise will be invaluable in the league's efforts to grow the game in China and other global markets."

Durant will miss the upcoming 2019-20 campaign after suffering a torn right Achilles tendon but the forward could combine with Irving, a former standout at Cleveland and Boston, to produce a formidable inside-outside tandem.

The Nets lost to Philadelphia in the first round of last season's NBA playoffs after a 42-40 regular season. They had not reached the playoffs since 2015. The club has won only one playoff series since 2007.

Silver thanked Prokhorov and former Nets executive Dmitry Razumov for contributions to the team and community, adding, "they leave a thriving team well-positioned for the future."