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.)
“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.