As an NFL player, Manning could not become owner of an NFL team. As a current player, Hardaway could not be involved with the NBA ownership. But Manning could own and NBA team and Hardaway, long retired, can certainly be a part of this deal.
The proposed ownership group is led by Robert Pera. Current owner Michael Heisley has been interested in selling the team for at least a year.
The news of the involvement of Manning, who played at the University of Tennessee in college was first reported on ESPN Radio Memphis. The ownership stake is actually in the name of Manning’s wife, Ashley, but one source confirmed that Peyton Manning is involved. The Mannings’ stake in the team and how much they paid for it is not yet known.
Through last week, Manning has earned more than $178 million on the field and tens of millions of dollars more off it as the most popular endorser in the NFL.
Since Pera agreed to the deal, shares of his company Ubiquiti Networks has been hard hit. On a single day in August, Pera lost $365 million on paper when the company’s stock plummeted. Shares since have rebounded modestly.
In recent months, Pera has added local partners, including Hardaway, who grew up in Memphis and has been extremely successful outside the game in business ventures; AutoZone founder J.R. “Pitt” Hyde and financier Staley Cates, who were minority owners under Heisley. In September, Pera scored pop star and actor Justin Timberlake on the ownership roster.
A source with knowledge of the sale told ESPN.com that the transfer of ownership from Heisley to Pera and his high-profile partners remains on course to be approved by the start of the regular season later this month. The NBA Board of Governors is scheduled to have its meeting Oct. 24-25 in New York City.