A handful of wealthy entrepreneurs and sports figures have reportedly dropped their name in the hat as potential bidders for the Los Angeles Clippers.
But the most celebrity-laden group may be the "Fantastic Five" of Oprah Winfrey, Larry Ellison, David Geffen and two executives from Guggenheim Partners.
It's a matter of days before NBA owners vote about whether to oust Donald Sterling as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for recorded racist remarks he made toward African Americans, including Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
Groups have reportedly bid $1 billion to $2 billion for the basketball franchise, the New York Times reported, citing an unnamed source. Basketball fans are anxiously awaiting who will lead the increasingly valuable Clippers team. In January, Forbes valued the team at $575 million -- months before the team made the playoffs.
Robert Tuchman, president of sports and entertainment marketing firm Goviva, said the group that involves Winfrey and the Guggenheim executives would be the "best fit and bet."
Here's more about this reported bidding group and how they could change the Los Angeles Clippers.
|Mark Walter, 54, and Todd Boehly, 41|
Executives from investment firm Guggenheim Partners know a thing or two about the business of sports. Two years ago, Guggenheim Baseball Management, a separate legal entity with its own ownership structure -- with the involvement of Magic Johnson -- paid $2.15 billion for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now the CEO and co-founder of Guggenheim Partners and part-owner of Guggenheim Baseball Management Mark Walter (pictured right), is the chairman and controlling owner of the Dodgers. Johnson is partner of Guggenheim Baseball Management and part owner of the Dodgers since May 2012.
A spokesman for Walter and Guggenheim Partners president Todd Boehly said they are working with David Geffen and others to put together a bid for the Clippers, but the firm is not involved in any way.
"Earvin Johnson is not certain if he is interested in joining at this point, given his love of the Lakers and [late Lakers owner] Dr. Buss and his hope that he can be involved in that franchise at some point," said Terry Fahn, a spokesman for Walter and Boehly.
Tuchman said that the executives from Guggenheim Partners are the "key" part of the Fantastic Five bidding group.
|Oprah Winfrey, 60|
Media mogul Oprah Winfrey, worth an estimated $2.9 billion, according to Forbes, would become the first African American woman to own a team with the NBA. Jeanie Buss, daughter of the late majority owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, is part-owner of that team. Besides helping equalize a male-dominated business and the potential for amazing giveaways at games, Winfrey would provide a unique celebrity draw to games, Tuchman said, inviting celebrity friends like Tina Turner and Patti LaBelle.
Everybody clap your hands for Oprah Chai Tea in giant blinking souvenir mugs.
|Larry Ellison, 69|
Oracle CEO and founder Larry Ellison would bring more than his deep pockets to the Clippers as the fifth wealthiest person in the world. Forbes estimates his wealth at $52 billion.
"Larry Ellison brings the technological expertise that all teams are in desperate need of these days and incorporating them into the mix -- not to mention Oracle can become a very big sponsor of the team," Tuchman said.
Would Ellison offer Clippers fans free database management software and would T-shirt launcher giveaways take place virtually in "the cloud?" When Ellison gets into sports, he goes all in. Take the America's Cup, for example.
San Francisco lost $11.5 million hosting the America's Cup last summer, "but that's nothing compared to what Larry Ellison spent bringing the event to town," Forbes wrote.
His Team Oracle won its second consecutive Cup, allowing Ellison to choose the setting for the next race.
The Staples Center already has its naming rights locked for the time being with the office supply chain. And good thing for Staples, Oracle Arena already exists as the home of the Golden State Warriors. Renaming the home of the Clippers and Lakers "Oracle Center" would likely cause heads to explode.
|David Geffen, 71|
The Lakers have Jack Nicholson as loyal celebrity fan-boy. But if David Geffen, co-founder of Asylum Records and Geffen Records, were to become a part-owner, maybe his deep history with the Eagles, Aerosmith and Guns N' Roses would provide an edgier fan-base.
"The star power of Oprah and Geffen can turn the team into the Lakers with the opportunity for multiple celebrity sightings which networks love to showcase on air, meaning more national games for the Clippers," Tuchman said.
Geffen, worth an estimated $6 billion, according to Forbes, is also co-founder of DreamWorks Animation with director Steven Spielberg and media executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.