The top CEO in private equity knows what it would take to save the New York Knicks - but he doesn't 'have the time'

jose calderon knicks

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The New York Knicks would be Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman's ideal acquisition in pro sports.

Blackstone Group CEO Steve Schwarzman thinks he could be the man to bring hoops success back to New York.

Business Insider asked Schwarzman which sports franchise he would buy if he could, and he picked the New York Knicks.

He's also grim about the work that it would entail.
"You'd have to transform the team completely," he told Business Insider.

Ouch. He's not saying anything that would shock Knicks fans, however. The last time the Knicks were National Basketball Association champions, Studio 54 was still a thing in New York City and Schwarzman had barely started his Wall Street career.

'One terrific franchise player'

"What you need to be very successful in one of these professional sports arenas is, you need a great owner, a great GM, [and] a great coach," Schwarzman told Business Insider. On top of that, "you need one terrific franchise player."

Woebegone New York Knicks faithful have dreamed for years that the Dolan family, which controls the team, would sell them.

Stephen Schwarzman (R) and his wife Christine

Mike Theiler/Reuters

Steven Schwarzman and his wife, Christine.

Fans have gone as far as publicly petitioning the current owner to sell the franchise, and recent rumors that the Knicks would finally be dealt to more capable hands only resulted in the sale of Cablevision, a media company that once owned the Knicks.Schwarzman - if he ever did buy the Knickerbockers - would be joining an elite cadre of private equity veterans, including founders or senior executives at firms such as Bain Capital, Apollo Global Management, and Sun Capital, who have recently spent record amounts to invest in pro-basketball franchises.

And in a way, the Knicks represent the ideal investment for a private equity pro - coming from an industry where "turnaround deals" often entail implementing a completely new strategy.

There's just one problem, Knicks faithful. He's already given this thought, and it's never going to happen.

"[New England Patriots owner] Bob Kraft asked me, 'Why don't you buy a New York team?'" Schwarzman said.

"I said, 'I don't have the time to make it into a winner.' I don't have enough time in my life because I'm trying to do that with Blackstone."

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