Former New Jersey Nets co-owner Lewis Katz died in a plane crash in Massachusetts on Sunday. He was 72.
Katz was also a former co-owner of the New Jersey Devils and minority owner of the New York Yankees.
In addition, Katz co-owned the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News newspapers and the Philly.com website. His involvement in the YankeeNets/Puck Holdings ownership group dated back to 2000.
That involvement ended in 2003 when the YankeeNets group dissolved with the Devils sell to Jeff Vanderbeek and the Nets to Bruce Ratner. The Devils and Nets have been sold again since then. The Nets also moved to Brooklyn.
“All of us at the NBA were extremely saddened to learn of the tragic, sudden death of former Nets owner Lewis Katz,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “Lewis was a trusted friend and valued member of the NBA family.
“He was a visionary businessman who touched the lives of so many with his tireless pursuit of innovation and enterprise, as well as his deep commitment to his family, friends and community. Among his many accomplishments were having led his Nets teams in 2002 and 2003 to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. I send my deepest condolences to the Katz family during this very difficult time.”
Katz and six others were on a plane that departed Bedford, Mass., that was headed for Atlantic City, N.J. The private jet, a Gulfstream IV, went off a runway and into a wooded area, according to CBS Boston.
It was not immediately known what caused the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
Area residents said they saw a fireball and heard an explosion that shook their homes.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Katz was among the passengers.
“The New York Yankees are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Lewis Katz last night,” Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement. “We would like to express our deepest, heartfelt sympathies to his family. Lewis was a minority owner of the Yankees and a valued, long-time friend and colleague to so many of us within the organization. We will cherish his sense of humor, intellect, and deep sense of philanthropy. Lewis had a huge heart and was always there when someone needed help. He will forever be remembered.”
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