Entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey is out to prove that she’s got game! The television titan and former queen of daytime is said to be aiming for a pick-up game to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers. Winfrey is reportedly interested in possibly joining fellow billionaires, entertainment magnate David Geffen and business tycoon Larry Ellison in a purchase of the basketball team that has been making headlines in recent days following Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s ousting from the NBA following inflammatory racist remarks. A purchase of the Clippers by Winfrey, Geffen and Ellison could be a slam dunk for this team of three.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a press conference on Tuesday that Donald Sterling, who acquired the Los Angeles Clippers back in 1981 would be barred from any association with the NBA following evidence that the 80-year old team owner’s noted audio racist tirade leaked and went viral. In addition to fines and sanctions placed against Sterling in the wake of the bombshell discovery, Silver is also looking to have Donald Sterling sell his interest in the Clippers. According to Forbes, the team is valued at $575 million.
Should the Los Angeles Clippers go up for sale, Oprah Winfrey and many others with deep pockets are standing in line ready to take their shot at a piece of the NBA franchise. Those reportedly also looking to toss their name in the hoop with a bid are music industry executive and entrepreneur Sean “Puffy” Combs, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and former Los Angeles Laker and community business developer Ervin “Magic” Johnson, who recently bought the Los Angeles Dodgers back in 2012 for a reported $2 billion.
The significance of the aforementioned possible bidders, should one of them close a deal to purchase, would heighten greater racial diversity behind the scenes in the NBA. In a sport where African-American players have great visibility on the court, those actually holding greater financial interests and ownership throughout the NBA are white males.
As for Winfrey’s actual function as an owner of the Clippers, David Geffen said in a statement that Winfrey’s involvement would be more of a financial interest. Oprah Winfrey would be considered an investor while Geffen and Larry Ellison who is CEO of Oracle and considered by Forbes as the world’s fifth richest man would be more hands-on in the running of the team. All combined, Winfrey, Geffen and Ellison are worth approximately $59 billion.
As for her own business holdings, Oprah Winfrey’s aim has always been on obtaining and venturing into enterprises that represent and uplift the betterment of culture and society. Along with her media empire that includes movies, publishing and her now profitable OWN television network, Winfrey gives of her time and resources to support education with the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa and generous donations to historically black colleges and universities here in America. Those closest to Winfrey say that her intention in getting in on the NBA game would be more to use her power and influence on an organization that has been lacking diversity from a racial and gender perspective. Many believe that, for Winfrey, ownership of a major league team would be a slam dunk for her brand and another point on her scoreboard.
By Hal Banfield