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Volume 24 No. 159

People and Pop Culture

Former Grizzlies Owner MICHAEL HEISLEY died Saturday afternoon at the age of 77 following "complications from a massive stroke he suffered nearly 15 months ago," according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. Heisley moved the Grizzlies to Memphis from Vancouver in '01. He paid $160M for the team in '00 and sold the franchise to current team Owner ROBERT PERA in '12. Pera's group "purchased the Grizzlies" for $377M. Stability "was never an issue with the franchise under Heisley," who was known for "being a passionate, no-holds-barred personality." He "regularly stated that his declining health was a major reason for wanting to sell" the team. Grizzlies GM CHRIS WALLACE: "Mike Heisley was as tough and strong-willed a person as I have ever met, yet he was also the biggest-hearted." Mavericks Owner MARK CUBAN: "He was an amazing man that I looked up to in so many ways. He never looked for credit for anything he did. He will be missed by everyone who knew him" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/27). Grizzlies F MARC GASOL said, "I'm really sad, really, really sad. Mr. Heisley was a person that really loved this team. He always cared a lot about us, and we always had a great relationship" (AP, 4/26).

IMPORTANT FIGURE FOR MEMPHIS: NBA Commissioner ADAM SILVER noted in addition to moving the Grizzlies to Memphis, Heisley also was responsible for getting FedExForum built. Silver: "He was a longtime friend of the league. He was a wonderful owner, a terrific friend" (THE DAILY). In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes FedFexForum "wouldn’t have existed without Heisley’s decision to move a basketball team to Memphis." Without Heisley, there "would be no" Grizzlies. Calkins: "This city needed him. It needed his deep pockets, when the team ran annual deficits. It needed his stubbornness ... to get FedExForum built" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/28). The NBA in '05 said that the Grizzlies were "in the upper echelon of teams in terms of charitable work," having raised more than $17M in donations and pledges for various charities (N.Y. TIMES, 4/28).

The NFL on Friday announced that Senior VP/Events & Entertainment FRANK SUPOVITZ is leaving his position in June to start his own event management and consulting business. Supovitz will help run next month’s NFL Draft and the selection process for the site of Super Bowl LII. He joined the NFL in '05 after 13 years at the NHL as GM/Event Marketing and Group VP/Events & Entertainment (NFL). Supovitz wrote on his Twitter account, "Proud of the work at the NFL & excited about the future. Will def keep posting behind scenes pix & insights from around sports/events world." ESPN NFL Senior Coordinating Producer SETH MARKMAN wrote, "Will miss working with @SupEvents. We had a great partnership and he was a true pro and terrific help to ESPN. Best of luck in the future" (, 4/25).

Kentucky Speedway named Feld Entertainment Regional Sales Manager MARC BRAFMAN Senior Dir of Business Development and Griffin Marketing Group Dir of Business Development ROB BLAIR Senior Dir of Business Development (THE DAILY)….The Seahawks hired former Dolphins GM JEFF IRELAND as a consultant (, 4/26)….The Browns named Ole Miss Assistant AD/Internal Operations DR. JAMIL NORTHCUTT Dir of Player Engagement. Northcutt also had a previous stint as Chiefs Player Development Coordinator (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 4/25)….Former USOC CEO JIM SCHERR “has resigned” as European Games COO and been replaced by former British Olympic Association Chief Exec SIMON CLEGG. Scherr had been leading the organizing effort for the inaugural European Games from Baku, Azerbaijan, over the last 12 months (AP, 4/28)….Life Time Athletic Events named Competitor Group VP/Sponsorship & Media Sales SCOTT NENNINGER Senior Dir of National Sponsorship & Integrated Media Sales and Competitor Group VP/Sales for the Eastern Region REBECCA MCKINNON Dir of National Sponsorship & Integrated Media Sales (Life Time Athletic Events)….Belmont Univ. promoted HEATHER COPELAND to Assistant AD/Compliance, COLETTE KEYSER to Assistant AD/Sport Operations, GREG SAGE to Assistant AD/Broadcasting & Media Relations and RENEE SCHULTZ to Assistant AD/Student Services (Belmont)….Ashland Univ. AD BILL GOLDRING announced that he will retire after 16 years in the position (Ashland)….PRESIDENT OBAMA named ad agency SS+K co-Founder & Partner ROBERT SHEPARDSON to his Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition (THE DAILY).

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Saints Owner TOM BENSON is donating $5M to help former NFLer STEVE GLEASON and his Team Gleason foundation "build and operate Team Gleason House for Innovative Living." The house in New Orleans will allow 18 ALS patients to "live fairly close to self-sufficient lives in rooms where the operation of everything will be controlled by patients’ eyes." The home is "scheduled to open in June" (, 4/28).

MASTERPIECE THEATER: Film director BRETT RATNER has acquired the movie rights to the story of Dodgers RF YASIEL PUIG's "escape from Cuba." He will produce the project with BEAU FLYNN. Ratner "acquired the feature rights through his RatPac Entertainment." The project is "not yet set up at a studio" (, 4/26). The film is titled, "ESCAPE FROM CUBA: YASIEL PUIG'S UNTOLD JOURNEY TO THE DODGERS." RatPac's JAMES PACKER and JOHN CHENG will serve as exec producers (, 4/25)....A promotion for the May 16 release "MILLION DOLLAR ARM" allows fans the chance to win $1M if they can "throw a strike 100 miles per hour." Fans showed up last week at Disney's Wide World Sports complex and "two other Disney outposts" in California and N.Y. The fastest three pitchers "advance to the finals in Hollywood on May 6" and also get a chance to meet actor JON HAMM (, 4/26).

IN THE KNICK OF TIME? TNT analyst STEVE KERR, who is a candidate for the Knicks coaching position, "is being represented" by former NFL Jets GM MIKE TANNENBAUM, who was "known in NFL circles as a top-flight negotiator" (N.Y. POST, 4/26). Meanwhile, Kerr "flew cross-country to spend a day" with Pro Football HOFer BILL PARCELLS to "pick his brain about the coaching profession." Tannenbaum said, "Over the past year, he's had a plan and we've talked about it." Parcells was "suggested by Tannenbaum" (N.Y. POST, 4/27).

: NBA Draft prospects C.J. WILCOX, GARY HARRIS and ELFRID PAYTON "have signed with CAA Sports" for representation. Fellow prospect RODNEY HOOD also has "signed with Relativity Sports and agent DAN FEGAN" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/27)....Former Islanders exec STEPHEN WALSH "faces up to 20 years in prison" after he "agreed to forfeit $50 million as part of his plea in federal court in Manhattan to securities fraud for scamming customers of his investment advisory business" (NEWSDAY, 4/26)....Clippers F BLAKE GRIFFIN is "buying a newly built home" in Pacific Palisades, Calif., for $9M. The 9,100-square-foot home includes a "gym, three fireplaces, six bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms" (, 4/25)....Michigan State alum and former NFLer FLOZELL ADAMS on Saturday announced he is donating $1.5M to the school’s North End Zone project “in honor of his late mother, RACHEL ADAMS” (DETROIT NEWS, 4/27)….Patriots coach BILL BELICHICK on Saturday ran the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon in a time of 2:36:46 (, 4/26)….MARY WILSON, the widow of late Bills Owner RALPH WILSON JR., on Saturday hosted “about 250 girls” in a sports clinic at the Bills’ fieldhouse. She started the program in ’06 as a twice-a-year event that “allows girls ages 9 to 12 from the Buffalo Public Schools to practice a variety of different sports under the supervision of local volunteers” (BUFFALO NEWS, 4/27)….South Carolina-based Sod Solutions Dir of Research ROBERTO GURGEL “develops and licenses varieties of grass,” including a “deep blue-green Bermuda called Celebration,” which will be used in five of the 12 FIFA World Cup venues this summer (L.A. TIMES, 4/27).

IN MEMORY: Former Oregon State Associate AD and former NCAA President JOHN DAVIS “died on Friday at the age of 86.” He served as NCAA President from ’85-87 and retired from OSU in ’91 (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/27).