Fanatics proprietor Michael Rubin REFORM Alliance hosts 76ers expertise

Michael Rubin joined rapper Lil Baby in a scrimmage game that featured the kids attending REFORM Alliance night.

Photo: Shareif Ziyadat and Studio 76

Throughout 2021, Fanatics Chairman Michael Rubin spent his time following his company $ 18 billion E-commerce empire.

He took over the trading card license of Major League Baseball, guaranteed $ 1 billion in sales, and also suspended baseball’s NFT rights. Attracted the Dallas Cowboys to e-commerce, he started one Fanatics China Operation and even got an investment from Jay-Z.

Hours before the Philadelphia 76ers, a team he co-owns, played a home game against the Miami Heat on December 15, Rubin put the deal aside and focused on something more significant.

“I think about business all the time, but I didn’t run around on the pitch,” said Rubin. “This is really amazing to me. I haven’t checked my phone for over an hour. I didn’t think about work. “

The reason: Rubin had to watch out for families who were affected by an unfair criminal justice system. He had to show his friend, hip-hop star Meek Mill, that he was still involved REFORM alliance, an organization created to drive change in the criminal justice system.

And Rubin, 49, also had to protect his basketball credibility and get the most out of another musical superstar who joined 25 children and families at the Well Fargo Center for REFORM Alliance night.

“He’s the only person who likes basketball more than me,” joked Rubin, referring to rapper Lil Baby. “I wouldn’t let Lil Baby outdo me in basketball.”

Make a call

Follow Rubin long enough and you will find that he memorized the story of Meek Mill.

Rubin explains how Mill’s ruling played out in front of the 76ers’ coach Doc Rivers in 2017. He spoke about it in a television interview while Josh Harris, majority owner of Sixers and co-founder of Apollo Global Management, was watching it closely.

“That means he’s going to find out,” said Rubin of Harris’ learning how to give back. “Josh is more focused than ever on giving back to the community.”

Mill, the Philadelphia-born hip-hop star known in the criminal justice system as Robert Williams, was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in prison in 2017 for a parole violation. The ruling attracted national attention, and Jay Z attracted more attention about an unfair system.

In a 2017 New York Times article, he wrote that probation was like a “landmine” and that an “accidental misstep” could have “greater consequences than the crime”.

Williams’ case also caught Rubin’s full attention when Mill invited him to follow the proceedings and “see what happens to blacks when they go to court,” recalled Rubin.

Mill’s story is well documented in a 2018 piece for ESPN’s The Undefeated. The article provides the details of Mill’s entry into the probation system since she was 19 while growing up in north Philadelphia.

Recalling the 2017 verdict, Rubin says, “The smartest thing he ever did was call me.”

In 2019 Rubin joined Mill, Jay Z and sports owners including Brooklyn Nets co-owners Clara Wu Tsai to Start REFORM Alliance. The organization wants to raise awareness of injustices within the criminal justice system. REFORM board members have pledged $ 50 million, according to CNN. And now-former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey increased that number with his $ 10 million donation in May 2019.

REFORM claims it has collected more since then, but CNBC did not want to provide an exact number. But since REFORM was introduced, Rubin said, 13 bills have been passed in eight states, including California, where the probation period for most violations is now limited to two years.

He added that legislation in Pennsylvania is now at the state Senate level.

According to the US Department of Justice, “Community supervision, “- those on parole or parole – fell from more than 4.1 million people in care to about 3.8 million in 2020. And just for parole, 8.3% the largest annual decrease for those who have been on probation since 1980.

Rubin said REFORM had made “good progress” in repairing a “broken” system.

“We don’t want people to do something smaller like smoke weed to get back to jail,” he added. “It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money and we’re ruining families and hurting people.”

“Mike learned a lot,” Mill told CNBC. “Now he understands the world I come from – where we come from,” he added, referring to this reporter, also from North Philly. “He understands poverty and I think he’s interested enough where he can go at this level.”

Fanatics owner Michael Rubin chats with families affected by unfair probation and probation laws.

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The conversation at the first table

To help raise awareness of REFORM and deliver an NBA Christmas experience, Mill and Rubin worked together to take in 25 children, ages 6-18 who have been negatively impacted by probation and probation violations.

Mill said he called Rubin with a simple request, “Can you help make some children in my ward feel special?”

“The holidays are part of it,” Mill told CNBC. “Young children who don’t have parents in the house may not have a good vacation.”

“Every child here has a mother or father who is currently in jail or has been jailed for a technical violation,” added Rubin. “You did not commit a crime, you went to jail.”

The young participants played a mini scrimmage game before the Sixers Heat game. It was Team Meek Mill versus Team Lil Baby. Rubin came to Mill so that he could compete with Lil Baby for most of the game.

The two dived on the ground for a loose ball, and the Atlanta musician got the most out of Rubin on the jump ball.

“I feel like they tried me,” joked Lil Baby.

Michael Rubin joined rapper Lil Baby in a scrimmage game that featured the kids attending REFORM Alliance night.

Photo: Shareif Ziyadat and Studio 76

When asked why he accepted the invitation to the REFORM event, Lil Baby replied, “I’ve been in some of these situations, so it definitely was for me. I come from that environment.”

The kids also took part in a question-and-answer session with Sixers trainer Doc Rivers and watched Sixers from a suite and the seats in the yard with Mill, Lil Baby and TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio fell in the heat.

The children also received gift bags with NBA items.

“So that these kids are here and play basketball with Lil Baby and Meek Mill – we wanted to give them the best day of their lives,” said Rubin.

And the event also served as another opportunity for Rubin to hear more stories about the “broken system”.

During the REFORM dinner with the families, Rubin sat at table 1 and joined Recco Ford Sr., a Philadelphia native who was also sentenced to 2 to 4 years in prison in 2015 for being late for a parole session.

Ford said the conversation with Rubin at table 1 was “surreal” and “motivational”. When asked what he saw when he looked at the Fanatics owner, Ford replied, “I see someone who has a lot of influence and gives back and takes the time to help.”

A group photo taken at the REFORM Alliance night in Philadelphia.

Photo: Shareif Ziyadat and Studio 76

“This is a time to make real change in this country and I feel like the organization is at the forefront of that change,” said Robert Rooks, CEO of REFORM. “The business side of it: How can we do more of these events and stand up for our loved ones in the community.”

Back to business

After the scrimmage was over, Rubin retrieved his phone, but nothing significant had happened during the game.

MLB, Fanatics’ biggest sports customer, is still on hold. The chatter on Wall Street was slow, and the $ 18 billion company was doing fine.

“Eight text messages and only nine emails – it wasn’t as bad as I thought,” said Rubin. “I will go back [to New York] I’m more excited about this event than anything I’ve done in the business world today. “

When the fun was over and asked what he saw when he looked at Michael Rubin, Lil Baby replied, “A businessman all day, every day. And that’s why we click.”

Told Lil Baby calls him “my older guy,” laughed Rubin.

“He will call me and ask a lot of different things. ‘What do you think of this company? Should i invest? Shouldn’t i invest?

“He was in prison five years ago and is now one of the greatest artists in the world,” added Rubin. “His values ​​are insane.”

When asked what his Wall Street colleagues would like to take away from the REFORM Alliance event, Rubin urged them to give something back.

“When you talk about people on Wall Street, you are talking about people who are generally better,” said Rubin. “You have a responsibility to make a difference.

“Meek is lucky and I’m lucky,” added Rubin. “It is our responsibility to give back to our communities. Anyone lucky enough to be in a good position and not giving back is not a good person.”