Shortly after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the $2.5M fine and lifetime ban of disgraced Los Angeles Clippers team owner Donald Sterling, quite a handful of America’s richest basketball fans declared their interest in acquiring the NBA team. These people ranged from businessmen, movie and entertainment personalities, athletes and former athletes. But five names stood out from the rest, and they may have the solid shot at owning the Clippers.
Here are the top 5 possible buyers for the LA Clippers:
Floyd Mayweather Jr
During a press interview at the MGM Grand where he is set to fight Marcos Maidana on May 3, Floyd Mayweather Jr. told reporters that he is seriously considering buying the LA Clippers if it would be up for sale soon. Mayweather said he plans to team up with Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer and some other personalities in coming up with a bid for the Clippers. Mayweather is a regular fixture at Lakers and Clippers games.
Mayweather is the highest paid athlete in sports, earning a total of $73.5 M in prize money for his two fights in 2013. But while Mayweather wants a “solid percentage” of the Clippers, he will need the financial backing of his “billionaire guys” and the management expertise of Ellerbe and Schaefer to run an NBA team. But because Floyd is very influential in sports and in business, he can always rally wealthy people behind him according to Schaefer. Schaefer also told reporters that he believes Mayweather is serious about the bid and that it wasn’t just for publicity.
After May 3, we’ll find out if Money really means business.
Oscar de La Hoya
The other boxer who wants a piece of the Los Angeles basketball business is Oscar de La Hoya. The former six division world champion said that as a “proud” Mexican American, he would like to bring a different perspective to the NBA. De la Hoya also added that he was born and raised in Los Angeles and that he knows what it takes to run a successful sports entity.
De la Hoya is correct. He is the first Hispanic to own a national boxing promotional company when he established Golden Boy Promotions in 2002. Golden Boy is among the top promotional outfits in the United States. It owns the distinction of promoting the richest boxing bout in history back in 2007, when De la Hoya squared off against Floyd Mayweather Jr. In 2008, De la Hoya through Golden Boy, acquired a 25% share of the Major League Soccer team Houston Dynamo.
De la Hoya also has billionaire business partners with whom he could always partner with in acquiring the Clippers. With his Big Bear background, experience in running a company and love for the sports, boxing’s golden boy has a good shot at the Clippers.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson is really the man at the center of the controversy. It was his Instagram picture with Donald Sterling’s girlfriend V. Stiviano that started the whole rant. Now it seems that Johnson is pretty serious in purchasing the Clippers.
After leading the LA Lakers to five NBA titles in the 80’s as the catalyst of “Showtime”, Johnson has been active as a sports franchise investor. He used to have a 4.5% share in the Lakers but has sold it in 2010. In 2012, he joined forces with his billionaire friends in the Guggenheim Partners to purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers.
League sources had said that Johnson and his group are absolutely interested, and that his penchant for sports franchise ownerships will lead his group to the Clippers. Basketball wise, Johnson would make the best choice as the Clippers’ owner as he could hold the key in retaining Doc Rivers and the core of players who have been disappointed by Sterling’s actions. Johnson’s NBA championship pedigree could also do well for the Clippers who have always played second fiddle to the Lakers in the past.
Rick Caruso is one of the two people who have the individual capacity to buy the LA Clippers. This active Los Angeles civic leader, made his fortune in real estate. He is the founder and CEO of Caruso Affiliates, one of the largest privately owned real estate companies in the United States. He is listed as one of the wealthiest people in Los Angeles with a net worth of $2.5B.
Caruso was involved in a bid to purchase the LA Dodgers back in 2012. He teamed up with former Dodgers manager Joe Torre, but the group eventually backed out from buying the Dodgers from Frank McCourt. When the news about Sterling’s ban came out, Caruso told media that “whether it’s him or somebody else” there is a clear need for a new ownership in the Clippers’ organization.
Media Mogul David Geffen stands out as the wealthiest potential buyer in this list. Geffen is the genius behind the famous recording labels Asylum Records, Geffen Records and DGC records. He was also one of the founders of Dreamworks SKG. And because he is mostly retired from his music and entertainment days, Geffen has all the time and the resources to make an outright purchase of the Clippers.
Geffen has long had an interest in buying the team. In 2010, he reportedly offered Donald Sterling a hefty $700M bid for the Clippers but Sterling was not willing to sell the team at that time. Geffen was also reportedly eyeing to lure Lebron James to move to the Clippers had he successfully made the purchase.
Just hours after the NBA handed out it’s decision on Sterling, Geffen quickly made a statement to let the whole world know that he “would very much like to buy the team”. And although Sterling spurned him in 2010, the circumstances are different now. And with a $6.2B net worth and a history of interest in the Clippers, Larry Geffen could be the front runner for the Clippers.