By Shams Charania, Mike Vorkunov and Tim Cato
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is selling a majority stake of the franchise to Miriam Adelson and her family for a valuation in the range of $3.5 billion, league sources said. Cuban, however, will retain shares in the team and full control of basketball operations.
Las Vegas Sands Corp. announced Tuesday in a SEC filing that Adelson was selling $2 billion worth of stock in the company to put towards buying a majority stake in a sports franchise, along with her own cash. This is approximately 10 percent of her stake.
“We have been advised by the Selling Stockholders that they currently intend to use the net proceeds from this offering, along with additional cash on hand, to fund the purchase of a majority interest in a professional sports franchise pursuant to a binding purchase agreement, subject to customary league approvals,” Las Vegas Sands said in the SEC filing.
Adelson is the largest shareholder in Las Vegas Sands Corp., which was formerly owned and run by her late husband, Sheldon Adelson. She is one of the richest people in the world; Forbes named her the 35th-richest this year and the fifth-richest woman, with an estimated net worth of $32.3 billion. Las Vegas Sands Corp. had $2.8 billion in revenue in the third quarter of its fiscal year alone. Sheldon Adelson was a casino tycoon who built the Sands Casino in Las Vegas and then several other casino resorts in Singapore and Macao.
He and Miriam Adelson were prominent Republican donors and contributors to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, as well as supporters of Israel and Jewish causes. They donated $180 million to Republican campaigns and political action committees in 2020, according to Forbes, and have reportedly given nearly $500 million to Birthright Israel over the last two decades.
Who is Miriam Adelson, the casino billionaire buying the Mavs from Mark Cuban?
Adelson’s skill in real estate and arena development, as well as launching casino gaming and entertainment in Dallas were appealing factors in Cuban’s sale, league sources said. He told the Dallas Morning News last year that he intended to partner with Las Vegas Sands Corp. to build a casino and resort in Dallas that would also include a place for the Mavericks. Texas does not have legalized sports betting.
Miriam Adelson will add the Mavericks to a slew of diverse investments. The family owns two daily newspapers — Israel Hayom in Israel and the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
No asset will invite as much interest, however, as the Mavericks. Cuban fed off of it and helped drive the intrigue of the franchise. He bought the Mavericks in 2000 for $285 million and while he did not make his initial wealth through the team — he sold Broadcast.com to Yahoo! in 1999 at the height of the dot com boom — Cuban did gain a measure of fame and standing as its owner. He was loud and visible in Dallas, often haranguing referees from his courtside seat early in his tenure, but the Mavericks made two NBA Finals and made the playoffs in all but five seasons he has owned the team.
Cuban will continue to serve as the franchise’s head of basketball operations if the NBA approves the deal — the rare owner who sells his majority share but remains in command. But it could also open him up to new endeavors, too. He then built his public profile over the years, starring as a judge on Shark Tank and developing a reputation as a prominent entrepreneur. Cuban has also had several public dalliances with a political career.
For more than two decades Cuban has been as much the face of the Mavericks as any of the stars who have played for the franchise in that time. Loud, opinionated, and too-often fined by the NBA, Cuban put himself front and center in the nearly 23 years he has owned the franchise. He has been a staple on the sidelines and a leading voice in the front office. That strategy has worked out well enough for the Mavericks; they won one NBA title in 2011 and nearly another in 2006.
NBA reporter Marc Stein was first to report that the sale was in process.
Why Cuban made the move
This transaction is as interesting as it is surprising. At a time when the NBA, and every other sports league, is leaning into sports betting, the Mavericks are being bought by the family of one of the country’s largest casino tycoons, Sheldon Adelson, who died in 2021. Miriam Adelson and the The Miriam Adelson Trust lead a group that owns 57 percent of Las Vegas Sand Corp., which owns and operates casinos all around the world. If approved, Adelson would become just the third woman to be the principal owner of an NBA team at this moment, along with Los Angeles Lakers’ Jeanie Buss and New Orleans Pelicans’ Gayle Benson. Jody Allen runs the Portland Trail Blazers as chairwoman of the Paul G. Allen Trust.
This is the second basketball team the Adelson family bought this year. Matan Adelson, Miriam’s son, bought Hapoel Jerusalem, an Israeli club that also plays in EuroCup, this summer.
This transaction also ends a seemingly endless valuation climb for NBA teams. The value of teams seemed to just keep going up and to the right over the last decade. But after the Hornets were sold for $3 billion earlier this year, and a 25 percent stake in the Bucks went for a $3.5 billion valuation, and Mat Ishbia bought a majority stake in the Suns at a $4 billion valuation, the Mavericks did not top that number. It is a bit surprising because Dallas-Fort Worth is the fifth-largest media market in the country, and Dallas is the ninth-biggest city by population. Not to mention that the Mavericks have been recently successful and have one of the NBA’s biggest stars in Luka Doncic.
It’s also a win for Cuban, who gets to keep running basketball ops despite selling most of his shares. — Mike Vorkunov, national basketball business reporter
Cuban already handed over some front-office influence to Nico Harrison
Cuban’s identity has been so tightly entwined with the Mavericks since he purchased the team in 2000 that his decision to sell is shocking. But it’s why he’s obtained something unprecedented: continued control of basketball operations, which Cuban has long been known for.
Since Nico Harrison was hired as general manager in 2021, Cuban has been a less influential figure in front-office matters: still actively involved and aware of what’s happening but leaving more of those decisions to Harrison, who has brought a much more rigid structure to the team than it had in the past under former general manager Donnie Nelson.
We might not know what Cuban’s unique arrangement means, on a functional level, until more time has passed. Perhaps there’s something else that Cuban’s decision to sell is leading to, but there’s no question that the Mavericks are heading into an unknown future. — Tim Cato, Mavericks staff writer
(Photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images)