This Day in Black History: Oct. 21, 1989

The Denver Nuggets became first NBA team to be owned by African-Americans.

Posted: 10/21/2013 12:00 AM EDT

Peter Bynoe, pictured above, along with Bertram M. Lee were the first African-American owners of a major league sports franchise.  (Photo: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Bertram M. Lee and Peter C.B. Bynoe made sports history as the first African-American owners of a major league sports franchise on Oct. 21, 1989, when they purchased the NBA team Denver Nuggets for $65 million.

The two business owners from Chicago received backing from media executive Robert Wussler. Lee and Bynoe and their investors put up $8 million, giving them 37.5 percent ownership of the team. Through the deal, they co-managed the team. 

A previous deal fell through on Oct. 10 of that year when Lee and Bynoe failed to raise enough capital to complete the sale. Lee was 50 at the time of of the purchase and a banker and broadcasting executive. Bynoe, who was 38, was a real estate developer. 

Currently Bynoe is the CEO of Rewards Network, a restaurant marketing company. Lee died of a brain aneurysm, Oct. 7, 2003, in Washington, D.C.

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