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If the Clippers are finally up for sale, who might buy them? Oprah, Yao Ming, Grant Hill just a few names to watch.

May 23, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

Opray Winfrey Opray Winfrey

Maybe Shelly Sterling is true to her word and just wants to facilitate a quick sale of the Clippers to the highest bidder and get out of the way. History implores us not to trust the word of a Sterling, but stranger things have happened.

Or maybe the league goes ahead with taking control of the team and selling it out from under the Sterlings.

One way or another the Clippers are going on the block soon and are expected to fetch better than $1 billion as a sales price. If you really want to be nauseous, remember Donald Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million ($3 million down) and is about to become flush with cash one way or another.

So who might buy the Clippers?

• Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim group. Also known as the poetic justice bid. This is a group the league would love to see own the team — they already own the Dodgers (having won a sealed bid process much like the league might use), they have one of the most iconic personalities in Los Angeles as the front man, they have the money via the other guys in the group, and it would be a nice little kick in the behind for Donald Sterling as he is pushed out the door. If the Sterlings sell the team themselves before the league takes it from them, the odds of this group winning go down fast.

• Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen and Larry Ellison. That trio is pretty much the definition of deep pockets. Any one of them could buy a team (Lord knows Ellison has tried) and together they have money and star power. This has to be the early favorite in the process. You can insert your own “you get a contract and you get a contract” joke right here.

• Grant Hill and his investment group. Grant Hill was always the guy in the locker room who was reading the Wall Street Journal instead of tweeting, the guy who would put Bloomberg TV on instead of ESPN on a locker room television. He’s got a mind for business. And he has assembled a group that may buy the Clippers, reports Marc Stein at ESPN.

•Rick Caruso. A developer whose name is not known all that well outside Los Angeles, but in L.A. he’s the guy that owns the Grove. He was in the running to buy the Dodgers but lost out to the Magic/Guggenheim group.

• Patrick Soon-Shiong. Another name not known outside the City of Angels, but the medical researcher and business man is the richest man in Los Angeles, worth $9.8 billion. He already owners four percent of Lakers, so he has been through the league’s ownership vetting process.

• Yao Ming. According to Bill Simmons of Grantland (and confirmed by ESPN’s Marc Stein), Yao is getting together a group of Chinese investors to make a bid. Seems a long shot but you never know.

There are a lot of smaller names that could try to attach as a minority owner with a group, such as Floyd Mayweather Jr. (he would never pass the league’s screening process for owners), Rick Ross, Frankie Muniz and others. They will get pub if attached to a deal, but like Grant Hill and Magic Johnson they are not the real money.

These are just the names we know. There are always hedge fund billionaires just circling the NBA looking for an investment (see the Milwaukee Bucks sale for $550 million) so other names who can write big checks will certainly pop up.

For the Sterlings, that is enough to create one massive bidding war. They are going to pocket a lot of money on this sale, whoever handles it. Which is a little disturbing, really.

  1. antistratfordian - May 23, 2014 at 8:03 PM

    I’m rooting for Oprah or Magic.

    • goodtogo28 - May 23, 2014 at 10:10 PM

      i’m just wondering what role Dr. Phil would play on Oprah’s team. Dr. Phil might not know jack about xs and os (like most coaches in the league today) but he sure as hell could motivate his team during timeouts and halftime speeches better than anyone else. can you say championship?

    • kavika6 - May 24, 2014 at 5:17 AM

      Oprah? You would just be replacing a white racist with a black racist. But I guess there’s nothing morally wrong with being racist against white people in this country.

      • ranfan12 - May 24, 2014 at 3:03 PM

        People prefer kind racists over cruel racists. Doesn’t make sense, but nothing ever does to me

      • antistratfordian - May 24, 2014 at 6:45 PM


  2. udleerc - May 23, 2014 at 8:14 PM

    Dr. Dre

  3. sportsfan18 - May 23, 2014 at 8:23 PM

    Uh, Yao isn’t dark enough…

    Something tells me the league/owners will approve a new owner that has darker skin pigmentation than Yao…

    Oprah? check

    Magic? check

    Grant Hill? check

    Of course they’ll be others in the ownership group, but there will be someone prominent who is a black person like one of the three above or someone else as part of the new ownership that replaces Donald “I’m Backwards” Sterling…

    The league will want to send a message to its players by doing this…

    • atahualpaoxford - May 23, 2014 at 9:34 PM

      How about that guy in Nigeria that kidnapped the 300 girls..???
      He’s black black…and will have the money from the ransom…

      My favorite though is the guy who played Data in Stark Trek ,The next Generation
      There is no sport league in the world that ever had an owner with that color of skin pimentation

      • sportsfan18 - May 24, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        hey now… this is NOT me… I do think it IS what the league will choose to do…

        The NBA’s Board of Governors has to APPROVE any sale that is made before it’s finalized.

        So the NBA gets to CHOOSE who they allow to own a team…

        MJ owns a team and he purchased it from the gentleman who owned the Black Entertainment Television station…

        So it is NOT new for the league to have a black owner.

        I’m not saying that the majority owner of the new ownership group will be or has to be black.

        I’m just saying that there will be a prominent black who is an owner, even if they only own say 3 to 5 percent of the team…

        Magic does NOT own all that much of the Dodgers… but he is an owner nonetheless…

        something like that will happen with the sale of the Clippers.

  4. ncarolinarn7 - May 23, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Feelings got hurt because they saw a business opportunity. Gimme a break.

  5. iangas33 - May 23, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    DO NOT LET OPRAH OWN A SPORTS FRANCHISE. If you have half a brain you’d realize that this woman is absurdly incompetent. Anyone that disagrees with this….let me rephrase, you have a show where you asked individuals about their problems and then logically deduce a normal outside opinion. ANY PERSON CAN DO THIS. She just happened to be chosen. This lady doesn’t deserve to own millions let alone a FRANCHISE. Words cannot describe how horrible of a decision this would be. If d. Sterling has one more racist decision to make…it would be the right decision for the wrong reasons. Keep to your crappy shows oprah STAY THE HELL OFF MY ESPN

    • antistratfordian - May 23, 2014 at 9:03 PM

      Just because anyone can do that, doesn’t mean that people would want to watch a show of any random person doing it. But people want to watch Oprah – some of them very badly. These people genuinely love and care about Oprah Winfrey as a person because she engenders that kind of devotion. It’s called charisma and presence and she has it in excess.

      • atahualpaoxford - May 23, 2014 at 9:36 PM

        But she’s really scary without make up
        Have you seen any such pics of her…???

      • ranfan12 - May 23, 2014 at 10:35 PM

        you make that case about many females lol

    • ranfan12 - May 23, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      fortunately, you don’t get to determine who and who doesn’t deserve what

    • ranfan12 - May 24, 2014 at 1:48 AM

      Not that hard to pay for good advisers if you”re rich

  6. mackcarrington - May 23, 2014 at 9:31 PM

    Well, Oprah doesn’t know the first thing about any sport, so her buying a team would only be as a financial investment. It’s a surer bet than the stock market. With Yao Ming , there would always be the threat of relocation to China. Or at least playing a number of “home games” there. Hill is a nice guy, but he has no real connection with LA, and he would be the “face” of whatever group he was with. He also possibly could be persuaded to take the team to Seattle. Caruso is known in LA as someone who would turn every inch of the National Forest into developed land if given the chance. It comes down to Soon-Shiong and Magic’s group. I would be fine with either one of these two.
    What’s scary is that the NBA hasn’t said anything about making sure the team stays in LA. That being said, I hope local ownership buys them.

  7. censormynameandmycomments - May 23, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    “Mr. Sterling, we find you contemptible. As punishment, we will give you ONE BILLION DOLLARS.”

    -One of the Groups Mentioned Above

    “No, we find you even more contemptible than they do. We will give you $1.2 BILLION!”

    -One of the Other Groups Mentioned Above

  8. eugenesaxe1 - May 23, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    Why would Ellison want to team up with anyone, he could buy and sell everyone mentioned above. Oh well, at least having Oprah all but guarantees he gets it.

  9. Nadeem - May 24, 2014 at 12:54 AM

    Lets just the clippers public. We want an IPO! We want a piece of the clippers!

  10. Nadeem - May 24, 2014 at 12:54 AM

    Lets just take the clippers public. We want an IPO! We want a piece of the clippers!

  11. illmatic8582 - May 24, 2014 at 1:56 AM

    say no to Magic Johnson.. #teamoprah

  12. campcouch - May 24, 2014 at 8:46 AM


    • mydoghasfleez - May 25, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      North Korean President – he likes basketball & knows how to deal with relatives & disgruntled players.

  13. atlfan31833 - May 24, 2014 at 9:27 AM

    Grant Hill would be the best of that bunch!

  14. hvoigt21 - May 24, 2014 at 3:52 PM

    why is it disturbing that the Sterlings will be even richer? You want to take their property totally away just because they made a racial comment. Or you think it’s disturbing because they made a huge profit. how immature are you.

    This is America not red china or North Korea. You want to take,the team and sell it and not let,them sell it themselves.

  15. hvoigt21 - May 24, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    so it’s ok to have a black racist owning an NBA and not a white..oh I get it…Most of the players are black so it’s ok to be a racist against whites. You can’t be a racist if you are black because all the racists are white. WRONG…

    that is the problem when you have a black president who divides the country.

    • mydoghasfleez - May 25, 2014 at 1:51 PM

      What a tool you are.

  16. hvoigt21 - May 24, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    So let’s let another racist own the clippers.

    Oh wait…she not a racist against blacks…She a racist against whites. now that’s ok.

  17. gbart22 - May 24, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    No way in hell should magic get any where near that team.

  18. gbart22 - May 24, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    You can tell who watches Fox News from reading these comments.

  19. hdsnake867 - May 24, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    I had to read thru 26 comments to realize that all of you need to get a life. Who gives a $hit who buys the Clippers? None of you A-holes are buying the team. Just get a life and sit back and chill. You shouldn’t care one bit who buys the team or what color that person is. Just know that it will be a billionaire and none of you are. I am surprised that with all of your rants, no one has blamed Obama for any of this.

    • jimeejohnson - May 24, 2014 at 6:21 PM

      We can dream and blame. In fact, you’re the judge mental one who needs to chill. You mad, bro?

  20. Robert - May 24, 2014 at 5:45 PM

    China Clippers 2015….Play in Hong Kong.

    • jimeejohnson - May 24, 2014 at 6:17 PM

      That way the Lakers would be L.A.’s #1 team no worries.

      • jimeejohnson - May 24, 2014 at 6:18 PM

        #1 in terms of wins not fan popularity. Just like Mets and Yankees even the few times the Mets were better (sorta like Clippers and Lakers only east of I-5).

      • Robert - May 24, 2014 at 6:25 PM

        Agreed! Get these parasites out of L.A.

  21. jimeejohnson - May 24, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    Yao Ming! That would be insane in a cool way, as China seems to have made basketball their own game more than any other western sport, even soccer. Bet the food at games would be a lot better than hot dogs and burgers: Peking Duck with the pancakes and hoisin, please! Los Angeles has some of the best Chinese food this side of the International Date Line.

  22. anonymous135 - May 24, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    The only positive I see for the NBA having Opera as an owner is maybe a 15% uptake in female viewership and maybe double that for merchandise.


    • jimeejohnson - May 24, 2014 at 6:27 PM

      Having Opera in the NBA might not go over too well. Rap, yup. Rock & Roll: yup. Country: maybe. But opera: nope!~

      • mydoghasfleez - May 25, 2014 at 1:54 PM


  23. MTArider - May 24, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    I don’t understand why no one is naming Dr. Dre. He just got $3.2 Billion for selling Beats and he’s an LA icon. He’d be a perfect owner for the Clippers.

  24. hvoigt21 - May 26, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    From My understanding Larry Jonson, NBA former player stated all the black players in the NBA should start there own league and leave the white players out. What a racist comment and you don’t hear about that in mainstream media.

    I guess we are going Back to segregation thanks to Obama.. Remember the negro baseball league, 60′ yrs of progress wiped out by,the first black Muslim president.

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