Michael Rubin is selling his 10 percent ownership stake in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, the company that owns the Sixers and New Jersey Devils, according to Yaron Weitzman of FOX Sports. Rubin’s main job is serving as the chief executive of Fanatics, and as the company has expanded and rapidly increased in value in recent years, he’s deciding to step away from the Sixers.
Rubin has been a prominent figure in the Sixers’ ownership group over the last few years, and is close with both Joel Embiid and James Harden. As Weitzman noted in his article, Embiid has spent plenty of time with Rubin off the court, while Rubin also helped tempt Harden away from Brooklyn.
The following quote in particular from Weitzman’s piece highlights Rubin’s connections around the league:
As one high-ranking sports business executive who has worked with numerous NBA teams said, “He’s the biggest player in our business. Nobody has the relationships that he does. Nobody can connect with people on both the ownership side and player side like him.
“And in a player-run league like the NBA, I really do think he can be a competitive advantage.”
Now, there’s the question of how involved Rubin will be with the Sixers and their stars in an unofficial capacity. Specifically, their free agency negotiations with Harden this summer.
“To that point, according to multiple sources, the league office recently told [Josh] Harris that Rubin, freed from the constraints of the league’s collective bargaining agreement and anti-tampering laws, will be able to help the Sixers more than ever,” Weitzman added in his story.
Rubin said the following in his interview with Weitzman this week when discussing his support for the Sixers:
“I’ll probably go to less games, but when there’s something going down that’s massive, I’ll stop what I’m doing to help. That’s who I am. That’s what I like doing,” he said. “I consider Josh [Harris] and Blitzer to be family. I consider Joel [Embiid] and James [Harden] to be family. And I look at Daryl and [head coach] Doc [Rivers] the same way. I have a lot of investment in the group and will do whatever I can to help those guys in whatever small way I can.”
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reiterated the same in his report when addressing how Rubin can operate now that he’s no longer officially part of the Sixers:
Prior to the Sixers-Brooklyn Nets trade in February, Rubin drew the scrutiny of NBA rivals because of his close relationship with guard James Harden. Rubin can now enter outside financial partnerships with players that were disallowed as a part-owner of the teams, an avenue that could prove beneficial to the Sixers as they work to re-sign Harden.
We can only wait and see exactly how much Rubin does play a role behind the scenes, but there’s clearly some potential to him being a factor now that there are no tampering rules in his way. While Rubin obviously won’t be an official agent for Harden, maybe he’ll be involved enough in conversations with Harden and the Sixers to at least be a factor.