NBA sets wheels turning for Clippers sale; Oprah in wings
By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The NBA set in motion on Wednesday an attempt to force a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers, with Oprah Winfrey signaling interest as a potential buyer, after club owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from pro basketball for racist comments attributed to him.
At least two of the National Basketball Association's 29 other team owners, including the governing board's interim chairman, said they expect the necessary three-fourths majority of owners to back Sterling's full expulsion, a move unprecedented in NBA history.
The advisory finance committee of the board scheduled a meeting on Thursday to review the next steps for removing Sterling as owner of the Clippers, as urged on Tuesday by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, a league spokeswoman said.
Sterling, who bought the Clippers in 1981 for $13 million when the team was based in San Diego, has not indicated whether he would relinquish ownership without a fight. Experts have estimated that the franchise, which moved to Los Angeles in 1984, could now be worth as much as $800 million.
Moreover, some experts said Sterling's fellow owners might be hesitant to support action they felt might set a precedent that could jeopardize their own property rights in the future.
Still, the move to expel Sterling from the league altogether fanned speculation about potential buyers.
Winfrey's spokeswoman, Nicole Nichols, said the talk show host turned media mogul 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 but never tendered an offer. Winfrey's holdings already include stakes in a cable network and a magazine. Continued...