May 13, 1999 12:00 AM

The NBA on Wednesday approved the partial purchase of the New Jersey Nets by Bill Cosby, who was attracted to the basketball team because of its commitment to a trust that benefits inner-city youth, team officials said. Lewis Katz, the team’s principal owner and a friend of Cosby’s from their days at Temple University in Philadelphia, wouldn’t say how much Cosby is paying for his share of the Nets. Team officials said Cosby is also buying two courtside seats and stock in the trust, the Community Youth Organization. The trust is the largest shareholder in the New Jersey Nets, with a 35- to 40% stake.

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