Sports commentators are criticizing an Obama bundler with ties to the Russian mob for hiring a convicted domestic abuser to coach his professional basketball team.
Moroccan-American hedge fund manager Marc Lasry, less than two months into his ownership of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA franchise, picked up former all-star point guard Jason Kidd as the team’s new head coach.
Kidd’s criminal past—he pleaded guilty in 2001 to domestic abuse after assaulting his now ex-wife and was convicted of a DWI count last year—and past instances of poor sportsmanship have earned Lasry criticism in some quarters.
"This one move, this deal to land serial jerk Jason Kidd when the team already had a coach and a general manager—neither of whom had any idea this flirtation was happening—tells us what we need to know about Marc Lasry. That he's a meddler," wrote CBS Sports columnist Gregg Doyel.
In a separate report, CBS noted that the Bucks’ front office had not been notified of management’s talks with Kidd just a day before the deal went through.
Kidd’s hiring ruffled feathers in the NBA. Some described the deal as breaking an "unwritten rule" among the league’s coaches: you don’t go after a currently occupied coaching job.
"There were 13 job openings last year, and now it's reaching almost double digits again this year," Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the highly competitive NBA coaching market. "It's absurd."
Lasry’s background as a successful businessman may be feeding his apparent desire to micromanage his new NBA team, Doyel wrote.
That background has earned him billions and ingratiated him with the Democratic Party and its candidates, to whom he has directed large chunks of his fortune.
Lasry has donated more than $460,000 to Democratic candidates and party organs since the 1990s, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, including $9,600 to Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns.
He also bundled more than half a million dollars for the president’s reelection effort.
Like many Obama bundlers, Lasry was tapped for an ambassadorship—to France, in his case. But he was forced to withdraw his name from contention due to his ties to an alleged Russian mobster.
Lasry is reportedly a close friend of Illya Trincher, who was arrested last year for his role in an alleged Russian mob-run gambling racket in New York.
Federal authorities were reportedly probing Lasry’s ties to Trincher. He withdrew as an ambassador nominee days later.
"Marc Lasry is a big-time gambler, in golf and poker," a source told the New York Post. "He’s a ‘master of the universe’ type, and he was friends with the kid Trincher."