The Chicago Tribune reports that former NBA player Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman has emerged as the likely next owner of legacy Black media company Ebony, after bidding $14 million for it in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Bridgeman Sports and Media, a company owned by the retired Milwaukee Bucks forward, was announced as the successful bidder for Ebony Media’s assets by a Houston bankruptcy court late last year.
The sale order was expected to be approved by a federal bankruptcy judge quickly, according to Leonard Simon, a Houston attorney representing Ebony Media.
Despite Ebony’s recent financial troubles, Bridgeman, 67, said he believes he can return it to profitability with “the right ideas and the right execution.”
More important, he said, is returning it to a place of prominence in American culture. Chicago-based Johnson Publishing launched Ebony in 1945, an influential monthly lifestyle magazine that documented the African American experience for more than seven decades.
“Nothing is ever easy, but this would be, I think, a labor of love,” Bridgeman said.
Ebony was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy in July by its creditors after defaulting on more than $10 million in loans. The bankruptcy was converted to a voluntary Chapter 11 reorganization in September.
The deal to buy Ebony out of bankruptcy represents the latest chapter in Bridgeman’s post-basketball entrepreneurial career.
Bridgeman, who spent most of his 12-year basketball career with the Milwaukee Bucks, became a successful fast-food restaurant franchisee after retiring from the NBA in 1987. He sold his restaurant interests and in 2017 launched Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Co., a Kansas-based facility whose distribution territory includes Kansas, Missouri and Southern Illinois.
In 2019, Bridgeman dropped efforts to buy Sports Illustrated from Meredith, which subsequently sold the magazine to Authentic Brands Group for $110 million.