Reports: Oprah Winfrey, Floyd Mayweather Jr., even Matt Damon would like to buy Clippers

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In this arena, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a pretender… not that I’d say that to his face.

It didn’t take long after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver dropped the hammer on Clippers owner Donald Sterling over his racist comments and said the league was going to try to force him to sell the team that potential suitors lined up with an interest in purchasing the team. (No, Shelly Sterling, Donald’s estranged wife, is not in that group.)

Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim Group (which already own the Los Angeles Dodgers) are already trying to get in the front of the line, according to multiple reports. But they have a lot of company.

Boxing’s powerhouse Mayweather is one of those. A regular at Lakers and Clippers games, he wants in, reports ESPN.

Mayweather said he was serious about his interest and that he had spoken with his adviser, Al Haymon, about teaming with Mayweather Promotions chief executive Leonard Ellerbe, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer and possibly others to make a bid for the Clippers.

“I called Al today 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.

Let’s set aside Mayweather’s gambling history and his ability to clear the league’s background check for owners, Mayweather would need a lot of help — his net worth is estimated in the $150 million range and the price tag for the Clippers is likely going to be in the $1 billion range (according to sources and other reports). Same with Oscar De La Hoya, who also is interested but worth roughly $200 million. In this ring, Mayweather and De La Hoya are not big time.

Oprah Winfrey is (estimated net worth around $3 billion). Entertainment mogul David Geffen is ($6.2 billion). And those two may be teaming up, reports Darren Rovel of ESPN.

Larry Ellison has been looking to buy a team and move them to San Jose, but it’s hard to see that outcome here — these partners wouldn’t want to move the team. Plus, if you move a team out of the nation’s second largest media market you are doing it wrong.

One fun name on the list — Matt Damon would love to be a minority owner.

Also on the minority owner wish list is Malcolm in the Middle’s Frankie Muniz.

There also will be a lot of names you don’t know who will have a serious shot at this. For example Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is one of the richest men in Los Angeles with a net worth of $7 billion, and he is the guy who bought Magic Johnson’s minority share of the Lakers. Soon-Shiong both has the money to get in this game and has already gone through the NBA’s vetting process for owners, there are no surprises there for the league.

It’s going to be a little while before a sale takes place. The NBA owners have to formally charge Sterling, have a hearing where both sides can present evidence, then the owners would vote. The NBA owners meet every July and this could happen then, except you can expect Sterling will fight this with lawsuits (plural) in federal court, dragging the process out. He’s a litigious person and is not just going to roll over for the “good of the game” here. That’s not in his nature.

When the sale process does move forward (and assuming the NBA runs it) expect a blind bid process (similar to how the Dodgers were sold out from under Frank McCourt by Major League Baseball). That process tends to bring in incredibly high bids as groups don’t know what others will bid. By the way, Magic Johnson and his group won the Dodgers in that process.

And yes, after league expenses, Donald Sterling will get that money. He bought the Clippers in 1981 for $12.5 million and will turn a handsome profit on this deal.

No, Joel Embiid didn’t cheat during the NBA Skills Challenge

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The Internet got itself all in a huff on Saturday as they watched the 2018 NBA All-Star Weekend Skills Challenge. In particular, the matchup between Chicago Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen and Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid stirred up a bit of controversy.

Specifically, folks accused Embiid of cheating.

During the passing section of the obstacle course, Embiid didn’t actually make any of his passes into the ring. He then proceeded on the next section and was neck-and-neck with Markkanen as they tried to finish out the head-to-head competition. Markkanen won, but that didn’t stop folks from saying the 76ers All-Star had circumvented the rules.

We now know that’s not true.

According to the rules (provided on the NBA media site, page 47 of the 2018 NBA All-Star Media Guide) Embiid was allowed to move onto the next section even though he hadn’t completed any of his passes. A player only has to exhaust the rack, not complete a pass. It appears rules sort of assume that if a player stands there trying to complete a pass three times they’ll fall so far behind they won’t be able to catch up.

Re-watching the video, it appears Embiid knew this rule to the game and figured if he didn’t make the first one he would quickly try to blast the next two passes off the rack so he could then move onto the next section.

Embiid even took to Twitter to head off accusations that he had cheated.

Via Twitter:

Trust. The. Process.

Rumor: Jeff Hornacek shoved Joakim Noah during confrontation

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The saga between the New York Knicks and Joakim Noah has been ongoing for sometime, with the latest story being that there was some kind of verbal altercation between the former All-Star big man and head coach Jeff Hornacek.

Noah has not played for the team since Jan. 23, and he is now separated from the Knicks as they try to find a solution to shed him from their roster.

We now have a better idea of what kind of urgency New York has to make that move.

A report from the New York Daily News has given us more information about the confrontation between Noah and Hornacek. The latest addition to the story is that it was not just words between the Knicks coach and Noah, and that Hornacek actually pushed Noah first during the confrontation.

The two then had to be separated.

Via NYDN:

Noah was banished from the Knicks after an altercation with coach Jeff Hornacek during a practice last month. The disagreement stemmed from Noah’s lack of playing time, and it turned physical the day after he logged only five minutes against the Warriors.

While no punches were thrown, the Daily News learned that Hornacek was the first to shove Noah before they had to be separated.

In our last update on this story, Dan outlined how that could be made possible. No team is going to trade for Noah at this juncture in his career, so the only real option for New York is to waive him.

Here’s how that looks, according to our own Dan Feldman:

If the Knicks waive Noah without a buyout, they’d have two options after paying out the rest of his $17,765,000 salary this season:

Pay Noah $18,530,000 next season and $19,295,000 the following season
Pay Noah $7,565,000 each of the following five years via the stretch provision

It just keeps getting weirder and weirder during a lost season in the Big Apple.

Kobe Bryant tells Shaq he was planning to leave Lakers for Bulls (VIDEO)

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Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal got their three championships together as members of the Los Angeles Lakers. The two stars were part of the three-peat team that won in 2000, 2001, and 2002. But the story that perhaps overshadows those accomplishments in the modern era is the story of Kobe vs. Shaq, and the long-standing beef that was between the players even after they split in 2004.

The back-and-forth between the two is part of the fabric not just of the Lakers, but of pop culture as it surrounds basketball. The Shaq/Kobe beef even has it’s own Wikipedia page that’s longer and more well-sourced than most of the papers I wrote in college. It’s impressive.

Meanwhile, Kobe and Shaq sat down in a long special that aired on Saturday as All-Star Weekend ramped up that revealed quite a bit about their time together and their relationship. One of the more interesting anecdotes was Kobe telling Shaq that he was planning on leaving the Lakers for the Chicago Bulls in 2004. That plan was quashed when the team sent O’Neal to the Miami Heat in July.

Via Twitter:

That would have been a major shift for LA and for Chicago. The Bulls drafted both Ben Gordon and Chris Duhon that year, and traded for Luol Deng. The team improved by 24 wins the following season, and adding Bryant may have altered that trajectory and of course sent shockwave of consequential changes through the league. Heck, Scottie Pippen retired that October, but perhaps he would have stayed for one more year with Kobe?

The rest of the interview was interesting, and there were lots of tidbits of information that had people talking. Bryant and O’Neal rehashed their fights, Shaq’s infamous rap dissing Kobe, and mooning Sacramento Kings fans after beating them in the 2002 playoffs.

The biggest takeaway from the interview was how the one-upsmanship between Shaq and Kobe, although subtle, still remains.

As context, Bryant has done a fair bit of career revisionism as he tries to alter his public image now that he’s not a player. He’s painted himself as a “storyteller” and has tried to make his single-mindedness appear praiseworthy rather than destructive. It’s mostly so he can sell shoes well into his 50s à la Michael Jordan.

In the sit down between the two Lakers greats, Shaq did some legacy revision of his own. He played off his continuous egging of Bryant over their careers as simple media manipulation, calling himself a master marketer. It really was a thing to see something that hilariously disingenuous, especially as much of the conversation between the two — including many admissions on each side — were about times they made each other sincerely angry.

The two finished the interview by taking photos next to some championship trophies (Kobe with more, of course) and exchanging laughs and hugs.

You can watch the full interview in the video above.

JJ Redick appears to use racial slur toward Chinese fans

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Chinese New Year was February 16, and now we’ve rolled over to the Year of the Dog. The NBA has a huge presence internationally in China, and so its video partner across the Pacific put together a compilation video of NBA players wishing people a happy new year.

The only problem? In one cut of the video that has been making the rounds on social media, Philadelphia 76ers guard JJ Redick appears to use a racial slur aimed at those of Chinese descent.

The instance is absent from the official video, but a reaction-style YouTube video captured a different edit of the Year of the Dog video with Redick still in it. Redick appears to say, “I just wanted to wish all the NBA c—k fans in China a very happy Chinese New Year.”

Redick responded on Twitter, saying he was simply tongue-tied.

It’s difficult to judge intention from a distance, but the result is certainly disappointing. Even with Redick’s apology, it seems possible he’s contacted by the league office as part of a disciplinary inquiry.