Earlwood entrepreneur becomes NBA's youngest part-owner
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Earlwood entrepreneur becomes NBA's youngest part-owner

There’s another new face amongst the hordes of Australians involved in the NBA - this time as the owner of a team. New York-based, Sydney-born entrepreneur Gregory Constantine has taken an ownership stake in the Detroit Pistons' minor league affiliate.

Constantine played basketball as a kid growing up in Earlwood but his own hoop dreams never came to fruition. Instead, he is now the youngest part-owner in the entire NBA system at just 29 years old. Not a bad second prize.

Hoop dreams: Sydney-born Gregory Constantine  has made it into the NBA system, but not in the way you might think.

Hoop dreams: Sydney-born Gregory Constantine has made it into the NBA system, but not in the way you might think.

He began his career as a marketing and tour manager in Australia, booking artists like Snoop Dogg, Calvin Harris and Skrillex for various concerts and music festivals, but has recently been running Smirnoff's global music strategy after heading overseas six years ago.

Constantine has been making major waves in the US. He was last year named on the Forbes 30 Under-30 list for marketing and advertising and has now linked up with the Grand Rapids Drive, the G League franchise based in Michigan, also taking up a role as the team's chief marketing officer.

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The opportunity to become an owner arose when Constantine met the team's president, Steve Jbara, when they were studying together at Harvard Business School. The pair hit it off through their mutual love of basketball, with Constantine hopeful he can become another conduit for Australian involvement in American basketball.

"I'm thrilled to become an owner of such a great team under the helm of the brilliant leadership and management of the team's president and majority owner, Steve Jbara," Constantine said.

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"From a young age in Australia, sports have always been close to my heart. Now, with the strength of Australian basketball both inside and outside of the United States I am very much looking forward to helping create a direct pathway for Australian talent to and from the US and NBA.

"My life-long relationship with basketball started from a young age in Australia and with this position in the NBA I’m looking to create a stronger avenue for NBL players to the NBA through the G League."

The G League was previously known as the D League (short for development league) before it was renamed through a sponsorship deal with Gatorade. There are 27 teams, all of them affiliated with NBA franchises, offering aspiring players the chance to play their way into the big time.

Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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