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Ex-Apple engineer reportedly buying NBA's Memphis Grizzlies

Robert Pera, an Apple hardware engineer who left to set up Ubiquiti Networks, reportedly promises to keep to the NBA team in Memphis. Might the Grizzlies ultimately end up in San Jose?

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Apple's hardware seems to have been updated today, so I hear.

However, one man who might once have thought he'd be involved in those updates has reportedly achieved a slightly more exalted goal: he has bought himself an NBA team.

Robert Pera, 34, once an Apple hardware engineer and now the founder and CEO of Ubiquiti Networks, a company that seeks to provide Web connectivity cheaply for emerging markets, is reportedly buying the Memphis Grizzlies.

The way ESPN shoots it, Pera is an avid, nay, obsessive basketball player who owns 64 percent of Ubiquiti, a company that has its homes in both Taiwan and San Jose, Calif.

Naturally, those whose hearts contain cynical hardwood will speculate, on seeing the words "San" and "Jose," that Pera intends to ship the team away from Memphis.

ESPN insists, though, that there are nasty financial clauses preventing such a move before 2021. Moreover, the Grizzlies current owner, Michael Heisley, says he ended talks with Oracle's Larry Ellison precisely because Ellison wanted to spirit the team to other climes.

Still, some may remember what seemed to be firm promises made by the new owners of the Seattle Sonics, before they thundered the team out of town to the basketball, um, hotbed of Oklahoma City.

Pera, who left Apple when he was 25, has reportedly found a mere $350 million to buy the Grizzlies. It helps being on Forbes' fine, but somewhat exclusive, list of billionaires.

The Grizzlies are a likeable young team that last year made the playoffs, even defeating the San Antonio Spurs -- and this year again made the playoffs before somehow allowing the Los Angeles Clippers to bamboozle them.

One wonders whether Pera will follow the technological path blazed by the Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban, who has proved to be one of the best -- as well as one of the most pleasantly vociferous -- owners in the NBA.