Magic Johnson Confirms Interest in Owning NBA Team

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 1, 2014

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 8: Earvin Magic Johnson speaks onstage at the Soul Train Awards 2012 at PH Live at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on November 8, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invsion/AP)
Frank Micelotta/Associated Press

Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and his billionaire backers are looking to grow their sports empire with an NBA franchise.

Thanks to a recorded racist rant by disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and a swift hammer drop by commissioner Adam Silver, one might become available.

Johnson confirmed his interest in NBA ownership at a meeting of business leaders in Beverly Hills, California, on Wednesday.

"I will be owning an NBA team sometime," he said at the Milken Global Conference, via Ben Bergman of 89.3 KPCC. "Is the Clippers the right situation? Of course. It's one of the premiere franchises."

It's also a hotly contested auction item that may not be up for bidding for quite some time.

While hitting Sterling with a lifetime ban from the NBA, Silver also called on owners to force the man who purchased the Clippers in 1981 to sell the team. Such a measure would require a three-fourths majority vote under the league's bylaws.

Even then, that may not be the end of this story. An executive close to Sterling said he'll sue the NBA if the other owners attempt to force him to sell, via Kevin Armstrong, Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News.

Nov 13, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling (left) and wife Shelly Sterling attend the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Thunder 111-103. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA

That isn't surprising, and Johnson himself said the potential sale "is a long way off." He also said if that bridge is crossed at some point, his group will be at the front of the line to make an offer.

"I think the fans have already spoken," he said, via Bergman. "They would like us to own the team. But we have to wait and see."

Sources had previously indicated Johnson's interest in buying the Clippers, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, but he had publicly kept his name a safe distance away from those talks:

If the NBA is able to wrestle the Clippers away from Sterling, bringing in someone like Johnson could be a silver lining for this sad situation.

"Johnson is beloved as a national figure and in the basketball world, is well known in California, and has tremendous business acumen," CBS Sports' Matt Moore wrote.

Of course, his group isn't the only one interested in a potential purchase. It's not everyday that a Southern California professional sports franchise goes up for sale, let alone one bolstered by superstar talent (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin) and an iconic coach (Doc Rivers).

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Amazingly, Johnson's team might not even have the most name recognition of the groups rumored to have interest in the Clippers.

Oprah Winfrey, entertainment mogul David Geffen and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison (plus their combined $59.3 billion) want in on the action, according to USA Today's Sam Amick. Boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Oscar De La Hoya have thrown their hats in the ring, along with music magnate Sean "Diddy" Combs.

Some terrible things happened under Sterling's watch, but the Clippers grew despite the stains he left behind.

Someone will pay a lot of money for the chance to wipe those away. Whether it's Johnson or another notable name who casts the winning bid, the franchise, the league and the entire world of professional sports will be better off.