The 2021 NBA Finals are heading toward an exciting conclusion, and one NYLS alum has had a court-side view.
In 2014, Marc Lasry ’84, Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Avenue Capital Group, decided to venture into the world of sports. He loved basketball growing up—he also played in college—so he set his sights on the NBA and became the co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team. This year, the Bucks made it to the NBA Finals, playing the Phoenix Suns for the chance to win their first championship since 1971.
Editor’s Note: On July 20, 2021, the Milwaukee Bucks won the 2021 NBA Championship. Congratulations to the Bucks and Marc Lasry!
Speaking at the Sports Law Symposium
This past April, Lasry spoke about his experiences with NYLS students and alumni at the 11th annual Sports Law Symposium, an event organized by NYLS’s Sports Law Society to discuss the most pressing legal topics in the field of sports with industry professionals. He explained his management philosophy that’s helped bring his team to the Finals. “You quickly find out you don’t really own the team. You’re a caretaker, and it’s the fans who own the team. So, you have a decision to make: Do you want to make money or do you want to win?”
In a conversation moderated by Stephanie Weissenburger ’21, Lasry answered questions about his early career and his work with investing and hedge funds. As the questions turned to his experiences with the Milwaukee Bucks, he spoke candidly about his interactions with the players, his business strategies, and how his legal education prepared him to manage the challenges that come with owning a sports team. He provided the audience with insight into the NBA’s “bubble” solution—isolating players, management, and staff to allow basketball games to continue—during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the establishment of the National Basketball Social Justice coalition during that same time, which he joined as a member of the Board of Governors. To conclude the discussion, he gave advice for students interested in pursuing areas of sports law.
As Weissenburger said of the conversation, “In the short amount of time I spoke to Marc Lasry, it was apparent that he has always attacked everything with tenacity and the utmost intelligence. But what really stood out to me was the relationships and trust he has built with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and other members of the Bucks organization. He has shown that, to be successful, it not only takes hard work and dedication; being personable in business can be one of your most powerful tools.”
Steven Nigro 3L, current president of the Sports Law Society, also remarked on the experience. “Marc Lasry is the perfect example of how a legal degree can take you far beyond the work attorneys typically engage in. At the forefront of Mr. Lasry’s investing career, he would focus on one investment at a time. As his career grew, as did the number of investments he undertook per year. When Mr. Lasry bought the Bucks in 2014, he brought his focus on individual investments into growing and developing the team. He decided to invest in the team to win instead of making money. Now, nearly six years later, it is safe to say that that decision paid off.”
The NBA Finals
Tonight, the Milwaukee Bucks head into Game 6 with a 3–2 lead in the series. We wish them the best of luck!