Jason Levien

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jason Levien
Born 1973 (age 44–45)
Residence New York, Washington, DC
Citizenship United States
Education Pomona College (B.A.)
University of Michigan (J.D.)
Occupation Businessman, Sports Executive
Known for Co–Owner of D.C. United
Co-Owner of Swansea City A.F.C.
Children 1

Jason Levien (born 1971)[1] is an American sports executive. He is the CEO and managing general owner of the Major League Soccer club D.C. United and co-owner of English Premier League club Swansea City A.F.C.. Levien is the former CEO of the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. He is best known for leading DC United's efforts to construct Audi Field, and for assembling the investor group that purchased the Memphis Grizzlies and then running the team in 2013 during its only Western Conference Finals appearance and having ESPN name the Grizzlies the Number 1 Sports Franchise in North America.


He was born to a Jewish family[2] and raised in Metropolitan New York.[1] He was bar mitzvahed in Israel.[2] His father is an attorney and business executive who represented Hector "Macho" Camacho among other athletes and sports professionals; his mother was a teacher.[1] Levien played on the basketball team while attending Pomona College where he graduated in 1993.[1] He then attended the University of Michigan School of Law where he was an editor of the law review.[3] Following law school, Levien clerked for the Diana Gribbon Motz of the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.[citation needed] In 1998,[1] as a licensed attorney,[4] he started work at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Williams & Connolly where he assisted in representing professional athletes.[1] In 2003, he left the firm to found his own sports agency representing professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, MLB and other sports leagues in the United States and across the globe.[4] He then went on to work as a member of the front offices of the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA.[5] He also was an adjunct professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law where he taught sports law.[6]

In 2005, he negotiated a $33 million deal with the Miami Heat on behalf of Udonis Haslem.[7] In 2007, Levien negotiated a $55 million deal with the Sacramento Kings on behalf of the Kings' leading scorer, Kevin Martin.[7] On July 31, 2008, Levien negotiated what was the largest contract in the history of the Chicago Bulls, a six-year, $80 million agreement for his client, Luol Deng.[7] Levien also represented Omri Casspi and Yotam Halperin, two of the first Israeli players drafted into the NBA, Ukrainian-born center, Kyrylo Fesenko, Courtney Lee, Hedo Türkoğlu and Earnest Graham, among others.[8][9] An article chronicling three of Levien's clients drafted by the NBA in 2006, appeared in The New York Times' Play Magazine in October 2006.[8] Casspi became the first Israeli-born player to be drafted in the first round and to play in the NBA and was named to the 2010 NBA Rookie All-Star Challenge.

In 2011, Levien emerged as part of an investment group along with actor Will Smith that purchased the Philadelphia 76ers.[10] In 2012, Levien and fellow Sixers minority owner Erick Thohir were named new majority owners for Major League Soccer club D.C. United, with the goal to get a soccer stadium built for the team.[11] He sold his stake in the Sixers to join new Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera's ownership group. He was named club CEO. Pera is the chairman and controlling owner. His partners include Justin Timberlake, Peyton and Ashley Manning, Harold Ford, Jr. and Penny Hardaway.[12] Levien oversaw the Memphis Grizzlies' basketball and business operations from 2012 until June 2014, hiring then-head coach Dave Joerger and current VP of Basketball Operations John Hollinger. The team posted a 106-58 regular season record from 2012 thru the 2013-14 season and won more playoff games in that two-season period than it had won in the franchise's history, including its first ever trip to the Western Conference Finals. In 2013, ESPN The Magazine's Ultimate Standings named the Memphis Grizzlies as the best sports franchise in North America.[13] His tenure as Grizzlies CEO ended on May 19, 2014.[5]

In 2014, Levien led the successful efforts for a public-private economic development project with the District of Columbia for a new stadium in Washington, DC. MLS Commissioner Don Garber stated on December 2, 2014: “Jason has done an incredible job,” Garber said. “He has been laser-focused on trying to build consensus and do a deal that would be good for the District, good for ownership, and ultimately soccer in America will benefit." [14]

In April 2016, it was reported that Levien, along with Steve Kaplan, were in talks with Swansea City, a British football club playing in the highest tier of English football, the Premier League, with the aim of taking a "controlling interest" in the club.[15]

Political activities[edit]

Levien has also served as a Democratic strategist and campaign consultant. He was credited as the speechwriter for the Keynote Speech at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles given by Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.[16] Levien and Ford have also co-authored a policy essay on campaign finance reform published by the Harvard Journal on Legislation.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Levien married advertising executive Meredith Kopit Levien; they had one child[1][1][18]. Levien has appeared as a weekly on-air commentator on WFOR-TV in Miami until 2006, and has been a guest on ESPN, ESPNews and National Public Radio regarding the business of professional sports and the NBA's Collective Bargaining Agreement.[4] In October 2013, a feature cover story chronicling Levien's career rise and achievements appeared in the Sports Business Journal and the Washington Business Journal.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Commercial Appeal: "Jason Levien followed roundabout path to Grizzlies' front office" By Kyle Veazey February 16, 2013
  2. ^ a b New York Times: "From Tel Aviv to the Space Needle, by Way of Slovenia (With Stops in Treviso, Miami and Salt Lake City)" By MICHAEL SOKOLOVE October 29, 2006 | “But look,” Levien said, “I’m Jewish — I had my bar mitzvah in Israel
  3. ^ "Pomona College Magazine: PCM Online". Pomona.edu. Archived from the original on 2012-11-08. Retrieved 2012-12-01. 
  4. ^ a b c Jason Levien: Tue, Aug 10, 2004 — 10:00 AM
  5. ^ a b "Grizzlies dismiss CEO Jason Levien amid surprising front office shakeup", Sports Illustrated, Rob Mahoney, May 19, 2014.
  6. ^ "Berkeley Law - Courses@Boalt". Law.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2012-12-01. 
  7. ^ a b c Reynolds, Tim (January 30, 2009). "Haslem agrees to five-year deal, will stay with Heat". St. Augustine Record. Associated Press. 
  8. ^ a b Sokolove, Michael (October 29, 2006). "From Tel Aviv to the Space Needle, by Way of Slovenia (With Stops in Treviso, Miami and Salt Lake City)". New York Times. 
  9. ^ Hamilton, Linda (August 14, 2007). "Jazz, Fesenko deal almost done". Deseret Morning News. 
  10. ^ "Sources: Philadelphia 76ers sale talks in progress - ESPN". Sports.espn.go.com. 2011-06-08. Retrieved 2012-12-01. 
  11. ^ D.C. United’s new investors Erick Thohir, Jason Levien should boost quest for stadium
  12. ^ Grizzlies pick Jason Levien as CEO
  13. ^ http://www.nba.com/grizzlies/news/grizzlies-best-overall-pro-sports-franchise-espn-2013-ultimate-standings-130918
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "Landon Donovan set to become Swansea shareholder". ESPN. Retrieved 13 June 2016. 
  16. ^ "Losing The Old Labels - Newsweek and The Daily Beast". Newsweek.com. 2002-01-27. Retrieved 2012-12-01. 
  17. ^ "Harvard Law School Journal on Legislation » A Harvard Law School Student Journal". Law.harvard.edu. 2012-02-15. Retrieved 2012-12-01. 
  18. ^ Sternberg, Josh (July 9, 2013). "Back In Black: Forbes' Champion Of Innovation". Digiday.