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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.

PBT Extra: Despite Russell Westbrook’s triple-double pace, James Harden is MVP frontrunner

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The NBA’s MVP race is down to two men. Sure, you can make a case for Kawhi Leonard or LeBron James, some even want to throw Isaiah Thomas in the mix, but the best any of them is going to do is down the ballot in the final three slots.

The top two are reserved for James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

In this PBT Extra, I discuss that while Westbrook is on pace for a historic season — averaging a triple-double of 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 10.1 assists a game — it is Harden who is lifting his team to higher heights, and that very well could win the beard the award.

As Texas legislature considers it’s own “bathroom bill,” Adam Silver hints it could cost Houston All-Star Game

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 18:  NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks with the media during a press conference at Smoothie King Center on February 18, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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NEW ORLEANS — The 2017 NBA All-Star Game is co-existing with the start of Mardis Gras in New Orleans right now because of the North Carolina legislature.

When that state passed bill HB2, commonly called “the bathroom law,” the NBA owners and Adam Silver rightfully drew a line in the sand and said, in so many words, “we’re not bringing our All-Star Game to your city if that discriminatory law is on the books.” Of course, there was no way a Republican-controlled legislator and governor were going to cave on a red meat issue for their base like that one in an election year. So the NBA joined numerous businesses that pulled out of the state, as well as some musical acts planning concerts, and took their business elsewhere.

Right now, the Texas legislature is considering a similar bill.

Houston is considered a frontrunner to land the 2020 or 2021 All-Star Game, the NBA has opened the application process for those games and Houston is interested.

Could the bill kill Houston’s application before it even gets to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s desk? Silver is too smart a lawyer and negotiator to box himself in a corner and say there is no way Houston gets the All-Star Game if the law passes, but he made it clear it could.

“You know, I’m not ready to draw bright lines. Clearly, though, the laws of the state, ordinances, and cities are a factor we look at in deciding where to play our All-Star Games,” Silver said at his annual All-Star Weekend press conference.

“I think the issue is we’d have to look at the specific legislation and understand its impact. I mean, I’m not ready to stand here today and say that that is the bright line test for whether or not we will play All-Star Games in Texas. It’s something we’re, of course, going to monitor very closely. What we’ve stated is that our values, our league-wide values in terms of equality and inclusion are paramount to this league and all the members of the NBA family, and I think those jurisdictions that are considering legislation similar to HB2 are on notice that that is an important factor for us. Those values are an important factor for us in deciding where we take a special event like an All-Star Game.”

The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is headed to Los Angeles, and there is no concern that California is going to pass such a law. The 2019 game is officially unscheduled right now, but the NBA’s hope is to give it to Charlotte if HB2 is rolled back or eliminated. The uproar over the law is part of the reason the former governor Pat McCrory lost his re-election bid last November to Democratic challenger Roy Cooper.

“I have talked to Governor Cooper, the new Governor of North Carolina since he was elected, really to express our desire to return to North Carolina [in 2019] for our All-Star Game,” Silver said. “We have a team in North Carolina. We have a development team, soon to be a G-League team, in North Carolina. And 20 other teams will visit North Carolina this season. So we’d very much like to get back there.

“We had a discussion so I understood, certainly, his position, when he was running for office, was anti-HB2, the bill that ultimately led to our leaving. So I really was talking to him more to understand, from his standpoint, how he was hoping to move forward in terms of changing that law. My pain purpose of talking to him was to express our desire to return.”

The HB2 law covered a variety of issues, but what drew the most attention was that it restricts transgender bathroom use — you have to use the bathroom for the gender with which you were born. The law also superseded anti-discrimination ordinances put in by the city of Charlotte and other North Carolina cities, laws that tried to block discrimination against gays and lesbians. 

While any state has the right to put on the books laws it sees fit (within the framework of the Constitution), those actions can come with consequences. Just like Texas has the right to put the law on the books (not a sure thing, there has been pushback from the business community in the state), the NBA has the right to decide where it will do business. And bringing an All-Star Game to a city is a big economic boost — Charlotte lost an estimated $100 million in spending without the game, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.

Kevin Durant introduced as ‘OKC’s own’ (video)

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Kevin Durant attended the Three-Point Shootout, which was a perfect time to introduce the high-profile Warriors star.

It just happened in an incredibly awkward way.

Report: Former Magic teammates had ‘real issues’ with Serge Ibaka

Orlando Magic forward Serge Ibaka, of Congo, reacts after being called for a foul while defending a shot by Denver Nuggets forward Nikola Jokic in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, in Denver. The Nuggets won 125-112. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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In trading Serge Ibaka to the Raptors, the Magic didn’t just get assets (Terrence Ross and a first-round pick) for a player who seemed increasingly likely to leave in unrestricted free agency this summer.

Orlando apparently also got rid of a headache.

Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:

Going from the winning Thunder to the lowly Magic probably didn’t bring out the best in Ibaka, and thats understandable, though not entirely excusable.

I also wonder how much of this was situational rather than anything Ibaka actively did wrong.

His presence forced Aaron Gordon and Jeff Green from their ideal position of power forward to small forward. That narrowed Mario Hezonja‘s path the the court. Any minutes Ibaka received at center cut into Bismack Biyombo‘s and Nikola Vucevic‘s playing time.

Both elements probably worked in concert. Ibaka disrupted the play of several teammates just by being there, which likely led to them giving him less benefit of the doubt about his attitude.

Don’t absolve Magic general manager Rob Hennigan, though. He built a roster overloaded with bigs. He asked for leadership from a newcomer who was third banana at best on his previous team and is entering a contract year. It’s not a huge shock this dynamic soured on and off the court.