Trending: Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin venture gives notice for spaceship flight test this week

Former University of Washington point guard Andrew Andrews gives a gift to Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China in 2015. (GeekWire photo / Taylor Soper)

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TAYLOR’S TAKE ON THE WEEK IN SPORTS TECH: Another tech exec is getting into the NBA ownership game.

The latest is Joe Tsai, co-founder and executive vice chairman of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. ESPN reported Friday that Tsai will buy a 49 percent stake in the Brooklyn Nets.

I met Tsai at Alibaba’s headquarters on my trip to China in 2015, when the company hosted college basketball teams from the University of Washington and University of Texas.

UW President Ana Mari Cauce, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, and Alibaba Vice Chairman Joe Tsai at an executive roundtable at Alibaba’s headquarters in 2015.

ESPN reports that the Nets are now valued at $2.3 billion. That’s more than what billionaire restaurateur Tilman Fertitta paid for the Rockets last month. And it exceeds the $2 billion that former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer paid for the Clippers in 2014 — a price tag many thought was crazy.

Tsai joins Ballmer; Kings owner Vivek Ranadive; Mavericks owner Mark Cuban; Warriors owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber; and Cavs owner Dan Gilbert as former tech moguls who now own NBA teams. Wired had a good analysis of this trend last year.

Highlights from the week in sports tech

What to watch this weekend:

Dude, did you see that World Series game on Thursday? October baseball is fun. It’s tied at 1-1 with Game 3 tonight at 5 p.m. PT on FOX … A ton of good college football games on Saturday, but the one to watch is No. 2 Penn State vs. No. 6 Ohio State at 12:30 p.m. on FOX … Steelers vs. Lions for Sunday Night Football on NBC seems to be the best NFL matchup.

Thanks for tuning in, everyone! — Taylor Soper

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