As soon as the rumors began that Sterling might be forced to sell the team, rumors popped up regarding potential buyers. Once NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced yesterday that Sterling would be banned for life and forced to sell, speculation went crazy. And now, today, billionaires Oprah Winfrey, David Geffen of DreamWorks, and Larry Ellison of Oracle have announced their intention to team up for a bid on the Clippers should the NBA Board of Governors vote to force a sale of the team from current banned owner Donald Sterling.
Everyone knows Oprah, the 60-year-old African-American television icon. Her estimated worth is about $2.9 billion, per Forbes. While she isn't as rich as the other two billionaires in the trio, she has by far the most celebrity of the three, and she would bring much-needed diversity to the post-Sterling ownership group, as well as the NBA owners in general. She lives in Montecito (near Santa Barbara).
David Geffen, who of course made a play for the Clippers in 2010 despite Sterling's unwillingness to sell, is still in the picture. He's worth about $6.2 billion according to Forbes, and made most of his money as the co-founder of DreamWorks Animation. Geffen is the most local prospective buyer and lives in Malibu.
Larry Ellison is by far the richest of the three. As the CEO and Founder of Oracle Software, he's worth $50.2 billion according to Forbes. He's the fifth richest man in the world. Currently the richest NBA owner is Paul Allen of the Portland Trail Blazers. Allen is worth a little under $16 billion, meaning that Ellison would become the richest owner in the NBA by about 3x.
According to statements reported by ESPN, Winfrey would simply be a figurehead and investor in the team, while Geffen and Ellison would be the controlling owners. According to Geffen, "Oprah is not interested in running the team. She thinks it would be a great thing for an important black American to own a franchise." Geffen also stated, "The team deserves a better group of owners who want to win. Larry would sooner die than fail. I would sooner die than fail. Larry's a sportsman. We've talked about this for a long time. Between the three of us, we have a good shot."
Oprah also confirmed her interest, with her spokesperson releasing the following: "Oprah Winfrey is in discussions with David Geffen and Larry Ellison to make a bid for the Los Angeles Clippers should the team become available."