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Is Alibaba’s Sports Strategy a Hot Airball?

Alibaba shares were up more than 2% to $180.35 in recent trading.

Earlier in October, Alibaba denied rumors about Tsai's interest in the 'Nets. The news is well timed, however, as the Chinese behemoth builds its sports programming and seeks retail tie-ins on its selling platforms through its subsidiary Alisports. Alibaba hosts its largest one-day shopping promotion on Nov. 11 -- called 11/11 and previously Singles Day -- and it has increasingly included partnerships with U.S. retailers. One small business, U.S. sneaker and sports apparel sales platform Stadium Goods, lobbed over a press release this morning to note that its partnership with Alibaba resulted in sales of more than $1 million in one day following its launch on Alibaba's Tmall last year. Stadium Goods links buyers and sellers of sneakers and apparel, including hard-to-find, pricey Nike (NKE) and Adidas products.

Tsai, who played Lacrosse at Yale University in the 1980s, paid about $5 million for the National Lacrosse League’s expansion team in San Diego earlier this year, Bloomberg reported. The story put Tsai's net worth at more than $11 billion and cited the likelihood of more American sports investments as Alibaba tries to expand its sports enterprise. China's sporting merchandise sales totaled about 76 billion yuan ($11.2 billion) in 2016, one tenth the size of the U.S. market.

NetsDaily lists reasons why the deal is a good one for Prokhorov, since it gives him time to bring home a championship with Tsai's deep pockets.

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