On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver fined Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling $2.5 million and levied a lifetime ban for racist comments attributed to him. The NBA is already in the process of removing Sterling from owning the pro basketball team. Thursday, a 10-man committee will have a conference call to discuss the next steps in getting Sterling out of the NBA.
Shortly before Silver announced the ban and fine, Sterling told a Fox News reporter that he definitely wouldn’t sell. But the self-made real estate mogul soon learned that he might have no choice if three-fourths of the NBA Board of Governors votes in favor of the move.
The league would need three-fourths of the votes from the 30 owners in order to force the sale. At least two of the National Basketball Association’s 29 other team owners said they expect the necessary three-fourths majority of owners to back Sterling’s full expulsion, a move unprecedented in NBA history.
The committee will consist of Indiana Pacers owner Herb Simon, San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt, Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, Miami Heat owner Micky Arison, Los Angeles Lakers part owner and business operations president Jeanie Buss, Oklahoma City Thunder owner Clay Bennett, New York Knicks owner James Dolan, Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, and chairman of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment Larry Tanenbaum. MLSE owns the Toronto Raptors.
Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.7 million when the team was based in San Diego, but the team’s worth has since ballooned to an estimated $800 million, making it the NBA’s 13th most valuable franchise. Now we can see why there’s a line forming around the bidding table with very wealthy potential buyers. Here are some of the contenders who could replace Sterling as the Clippers new owner.
Talk show host turned media mogul Oprah Winfrey was in talks with leading Hollywood executive David Geffen and the chief executive officer of computer technology firm Oracle Corp, Larry Ellison, to bid for the team if were to become available.
Geffen, who started two record labels and co-founded the Dreamworks film studio, has expressed interest in the Clippers in the past. Winfrey’s holdings already include stakes in a cable network and a magazine. Geffen, whose net worth has been estimated by Forbes magazine at $6.2 billion, he told sports network ESPN on Wednesday that he and Ellison would run the team, while Winfrey would be an investor.
Champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. insists that he’s serious about his interest in the team, and has even talked to his adviser, Al Haymon, about the feasibility of making a bid along with Mayweather Promotions chief executive Leonard Ellerbe, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer and maybe others. Mayweather’s estimated net worth is $170 million.
Retired boxing ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya, who started an eponymous promotions company bearing his famed nickname, is another champion athlete who has expressed interest in purchasing the Clippers with a group of investors. De La Hoya, a six-division titleholder, already owns a portion of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer along with business partner Phil Anschutz. De La Hoya’s estimated net worth is $200 million.
Billionaire real-estate developer Rick Caruso formerly lost a bid for the Dodgers in 2012, but his dreams of owning an NBA team might still be alive, if the Clippers become available. Caruso told the L.A. Times that he’s keen on leading or joining a group that would take over the team. “Whether it’s me or somebody else, clearly there needs to be new ownership,” Caruso said. Caruso’s net worth is an estimated $1.7 billion.
The most compelling contender for the purchase of the Clippers is basketball legend and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Johnson was propelled into the Sterling controversy when the recorded argument between Sterling and his girlfriend showed that it started after she posted a photo with Johnson on Instagram.
Magic’s name is among a group of rumored potential buyers. According to league sources who told Yahoo Sports that Johnson would enlist the help of billionaire backers the Guggenheim Partners, to make a bid. Johnson and Mark Walter of the Guggenheim Partners already own the Los Angeles Dodgers and at one time the Hall of Famer owned roughly 4.5 percent of the Lakers, which he sold in 2010 for an undisclosed sum. Johnson’s net worth is estimated at $500 million.