Count Oprah Winfrey and boxing mogul Floyd Mayweather Jr. among those interested in bidding for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Winfrey, David Geffen and Larry Ellison are joining together to make a bid to buy the Clippers if the NBA’s board of governors votes to force Donald Sterling to sell the team, Geffen told ESPN on Wednesday.
Geffen said the Clippers would be run by him and Ellison, while Winfrey would be an investor.
“Oprah is not interested in running the team,” Geffen told ESPN. “She thinks it would be a great thing for an important black American to own (another) franchise.
“The team deserves a better group of owners, who want to win. Larry would sooner die than fail. I would sooner die than fail. Larry’s a sportsman, we’ve talked about this for a long time. Between the three of us, we have a good shot.”
Geffen is a music and film mogul with a net worth that Forbes estimates at $6.2 billion. He reportedly tried to buy at least a controlling stake in the Clippers in 2010 for $600 million but was rebuffed by Sterling.
“I’m a fan. I bring something to the table, it’s fun and I can afford it,” Geffen said. “I live in L.A., that’s one thing that makes it attractive.”
Ellison is the CEO of Oracle, a business software and technology company.
Mayweather, the world’s highest-paid athlete, nets more than $70 million per fight. Retired boxer Oscar De La Hoya would also be interested, and former Los Angeles Lakers great Magic Johnson, part of the ownership group of the Dodgers, is “mobilizing his group,” Yahoo Sports reported.
Johnson said he is not attempting to buy the Clippers because they currently have an owner. That, of course, could be a matter of evolving semantics.
Mayweather told reporters Tuesday at MGM Grand, in advance of his Saturday night unifcation fight with Marcos Maidana, that he is very serious about NBA ownership. He began speaking with his adviser, Al Haymon, about forming a group with Mayweather Promotions chief executive Leonard Ellerbe, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer and many others.
“Yes, I called Al about that to see if me, Leonard and Al, and hopefully Richard and a couple of other guys, a couple other of my billionaire guys, we can come together and see what we can come up with,” Mayweather said. “Hopefully, we can do it, and it’s not just talk.”
Mayweather said he would not want to be a silent voice at the table with “3 or 4 percent” stake in a franchise.
“I got to get a solid percentage. Do we want to buy the Clippers? Yes, we do,” he said. “We are very, very interested in buying the Clippers. We’ll keep the Clippers right where they’re at. When I’m not boxing, I’m at the games all the time. We do want to buy the Clippers. Me and my team do want to buy the Clippers and we can afford the Clippers.”
Sterling paid $12.5 million for the franchise, now valued between $700 million and $1 billion based on increasing revenues and a new media deal.
Mayweather, an avid sports gambler and Las Vegas resident, said he would no longer bet if he buys the team.
“I (could) no longer bet, so I have to stop that completely,” he said.
Mayweather knows Sterling and said his personal dealings with the owner, banned for life from the NBA on Tuesday, were much different than the audio recordings portrayed.
“He’s been getting a lot of negative press and my thing is this — I don’t have nothing negative to say about this guy,” Mayweather said. “He’s always treated me with the utmost respect. He has always invited me to games, always. Has always told me, ‘Floyd, I want you to sit right next to me and my wife.’ I don’t know about the (alleged) mistress. But I’m talking about him and the wife.”
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