There is buzz that former NBA star Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman is closing in on a deal to buy Sports Illustrated from Meredith.
If a deal comes to pass, Bridgeman will have beaten out a group headed by Joshua Pollack that includes Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, motivational speaker Tony Robbins and Hollywood producer Peter Guber, who is a part-owner of the Golden State Warriors.
The Pollack group was also trying to put together a package to buy Fortune and Money, which Meredith is seeking to divest before year’s end.
In his NBA career, Bridgeman embraced a role as “super sub” for the Milwaukee Bucks, eventually playing in 711 games, more than any player in franchise history.
But he credits his time as head of the National Basketball Players Association for giving him his business schooling.
In his post-playing days, Bridgeman started acquiring and operating Wendy’s and Chili’s franchises, which he sold for $400 million in 2016.
He is now the owner of Heartland Coca Cola Bottling Co., with distribution in Kansas, Missouri and Illinois.
Bridgeman may be teaming up with an even deeper-pocketed partner in Canadian billionaire Larry Tanenbaum and his family’s Toronto-based investment arm, the Kilmer Group.
They recently purchased Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada from the Coca-Cola Co. Terms of that deal were not disclosed, but the Globe and Mail estimated it as an $800 million deal.
Tanenbuam, said to be worth C$1.5 billion, is huge in Toronto sports and media holdings. He’s chairman and part owner of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and played a big role in bringing the NBA’s Raptors to Toronto, where he is also a part owner. Kilmer owns the Scotiabank Arena, where both teams play. And to round out the roster, he’s involved in ownership of the soccer team Toronto FC.
Bridgeman did not return calls seeking comment. Kilmer Group is insisting its only deal with Bridgeman is the recent Coca-Cola agreement.
Meredith declined to comment.
Source: NY Post