Larry Ellison — founder of Oracle and one of the richest men walking the planet — lost out on his bid to buy the Golden State Warriors last year. (Actually, his bid might have won but it was submitted after the deadline.)
He still wants an NBA team and recently tried to buy the New Orleans Hornets, he told the San Jose Mercury News (via CBS Facts & Rumors):
“I did offer $350 million” for the New Orleans Hornets, Ellison told reporters, adding that he was “slightly outbid” by the National Basketball Association when the league bought the bankrupt team last month from owners George Shinn and Gary Chouest.
It had been assumed that the league bought the team because nobody else stepped forward with a legitimate offer.
Someone did — Ellison. But not the right someone. He likely would have moved the team out of New Orleans to San Jose, a rumor that Forbes had published.
The league wants to make an effort — or at least appear to make an effort — to keep the team in New Orleans. Selling to Ellison would have come off as giving up on the city and that would have been bad PR.
It would not be a shock if whoever buys the Hornets from the league decides move the team to Kansas City or some other market. Even San Jose. But for now it’s about giving New Orleans a chance, and making sure everyone sees how hard you are trying to keep the team there. Not that there won’t still be an outcry if/when the team moves, but at least the league can say it did its best before screwing another fan base.
At his very first press conference as owner, Michael Jordan was asked about changing the name Bobcats. There are some in Charlotte who despise that name — former owner Bob Johnson picked it and the feeling is he was naming the team after himself.
Jordan said he was open to the idea, but that it would be a process that started with research.
Well, that research is in and the name Bobcats will stay, Bobcats marketing guru Pete Guelli told the Charlotte Observer. The research showed “no groundswell” for a name change, he said.
Ever since George Shinn — owner of the Charlotte Hornets back in the day — poisoned the well in Charlotte with a tawdry sexual harassment trial and a series of other missteps, the NBA has been a hard sell in what was once a hotbed of the league. The only way to change that is winning (which creates its own problems because you have to spend to win in today league and the Bobcats do not have the revenue the Knicks, Celtics and others do). Steady ownership and wins, that’s what matter.
Do that and the name will be irrelevant.
Gary Chouest was oh, so close to buying the New Orleans Hornets. He already had 25 percent and was going to buy out the rest from George Shinn. Then he got a better look at the $83 million in debt they had, or his business supplying vessels to the off-shore gulf oil industry took a big hit after the BP oil spill, or whatever the reason he decided to pull back.
When he stepped away from buying the Hornets the league had to step in and take over the team, purchasing all of it from George Shinn. The league is also buying Chouest’s minority share.
But don’t thing that Chouest wants the team out of town. That’s not what he told the Associated Press. He said his goal is to keep the team in the city and didn’t rule out some level of future interest.
“As far as my future involvement, the purpose hasn’t changed as to why I invested from Day 1,” Chouest said. “The same situation still exists and the same reasoning for continuing to support the team still exists.”
Just to be clear, he wants all the perks of the Hornets in New Orleans, he just doesn’t want to be the one who has to pay for it. How very American.
Chouest would not comment on why his negotiations to buy the team fell apart.
David Stern has said the goal with the Hornets is to find an owner who wants to buy the team — at a nice little markup over what the league paid — and keep the team in New Orleans. How they accomplish that remains to be seen as the Hornets have some serious financial issues.