PhillyDeals: Dr. J Enterprises strikes a deal with Anthem Media Group
Julius Erving, the airborne forward who led the 76ers to the NBA championship way back in 1983, is 64 years old, and still hustling.
, the airborne forward who led the 76ers to the NBA championship way back in 1983, is 64 years old, and still hustling.
Last week, his Dr. J Enterprises cut a deal with Anthem Media Group, of Toronto, New York and Los Angeles, to help sell its Fantasy Sports Network (FNTSY) to such video giants as Comcast, DirecTV and AT&T, and find marketing partnerships with pro leagues and advertisers.
Anthem also owns fantasy-sports site RotoExperts.com, combat-sports-oriented Fight Network, SportsGrid.com (sports commentary), and a stake in Pursuit Channel (hunting).
"Anthem needs to get into mainstream outlets," Erving told me. Erving takes inspiration from CNN's energetic founder: "Ted Turner, he had people out there selling door-to-door."
The Sixers' new fantasy-sports partner, DraftKings Inc., and the NBA's official fantasy-sports partner, FanDuel Inc., "get most of their content from Anthem," says Erving. "We're content providers," Erving said, regarding his company and Anthem. "They are outlets."
Erving was recruited by Chris Doleman, the Minnesota Vikings' Hall of Fame defensive end, who heads business development at Anthem.
"We're not rich enough to invest" cash in the company, Erving told me.
Erving is no stranger to business. He was an owner of Garden State Cable, had "strategic partnerships" with Converse and Spaulding, and joined New York investor J. Bruce Llewellyn as an investor in Coca-Cola's Philadelphia-area bottling plants, before Llewellyn sold out in 2006.
"I didn't want to wake up every morning and be consumed by one thing," Erving told me. "I wanted variety. I got it, in spades."
He invested in a golf course near Atlanta, where he lives, but fell behind on the loan in the recession and lost the property in a 2010 foreclosure. Soon after, he sold off more than $3 million in championship memorabilia. He said the deals were unrelated, and part of the sale proceeds went to charity.
He says his current investments include radiology, medical-records and cord-blood firms.
"And I'm still under contract with Converse," now part of Nike. He will be in Philadelphia on Friday to help the U.S. Postal Service honor the late Wilt Chamberlain with a stamp.
I asked Erving what to tell young Sixers fans, such as my teenage kids, who suffer when the team loses, as has been happening with remarkable frequency. Is there a better way for the owners, led by billionaire investor Josh Harris, other than being so bad that the franchise gets good draft picks?
"I don't think there's an alternative," Erving told me. "They are this far into it. It's a three- to five-year strategy.
"But the guys still got to get out and perform. By the time the 2016-17 season comes, you got to have two guys on the team who are top-15 players.
"You tell those kids to hang in there."